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Replay: Learning to live dependent on God and interdependent on one another

Posted by on May 19, 2012 in community, edification, fellowship, gathering, love, service | 11 comments

Replay: Learning to live dependent on God and interdependent on one another

Four years ago, I wrote a post called “Interdependence.” The post was written after a weekend in which I witnessed a man who refused to admit that he needed help and refused to accept help when it was offered (although it was clear that he did need help). That same weekend, I witnessed a friend admit that she needed help and other friends offer help. It reminded me that we are both dependent on God, and interdependent upon one another – as God often works through his children to help one another.

I hope this post is as encouraging to you as the actual experiences were to me.

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Interdependence

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are both dependent upon God, and interdependent upon one another. Unfortunately, society teaches us to be independent – neither dependent nor interdependent. We’re taught to learn for ourselves, fend for ourselves, care for ourselves, earn for ourselves, and do for ourselves. We’re taught not to admit that we need help from anyone nor to accept help from anyone. This is the nature of American society, but it is not the nature of the follower of Jesus Christ – he or she has a new nature.

This point was driven home for me last Friday. Our family arrived at the event location for the North Raleigh / Wake Forest Relay for Life around 5:15 p.m. We were supposed to drop off our canopy, chairs, tables, etc. – which we did. The committee was supposed to pick up our stuff and take it to our site – which they did. I was supposed to park my vehicle – which I did – while my family walked to our site – which they did. Everything was going according to plan.

Except… as soon as I parked our van, it started to rain. It wasn’t a slow sprinkle, it was a gully-washer – at least, that’s what we called it in Alabama. The entire time that I was walking – running – to our event site, I could picture my family standing in the middle of a muddy field getting drenched by the rain. Imagine my surprise when I reached our site to find that two teenagers from a nearby site had come to their rescue! The two young men were helping my wife set up the canopy, and they had pulled all of our equipment under the canopy. Those two teenagers were my heroes that night! After I arrived, I helped them finish setting up the canopy, and we stayed as dry as we could while the rain continued.

Not long after our canopy was set up, another team arrived at the site next to ours. The team – at this time – consisted of a mother, her teenage daughter, and two or three more teenage girls. My family helped them spread their canopy over their stuff. We offered to help them raise their canopy, but they said they didn’t want to raise it yet. Instead, they stood under some umbrellas and waited for the husband to arrive.

When the husband arrived, I again went over and offered assistance. I told him that some boys from a neighboring site had helped us, and that we would love to help them set up their canopies – they actually had two. He said no. He didn’t need the help, but thank you anyway.

We watched and listened as he struggled to raise the canopy in the wind and rain. He was obviously getting frustrated because his family was not doing things the way he thought they should be done. They often spoke loudly – shouted – at one another as they tried to raise the two canopies and keep their stuff dry at the same time.

When the shouting had subsided for a moment, and when tempers seems to settle a little, I again walked over and asked if I could help. He said… and I quote… “No, we like to fight while we do this.” I told him that I would be glad to help, if he decided he needed anything. Then, I walked back to my canopy.

As I think back over this encounter, I recognize the church acting in this stubborn, independent manner many times. It seems that even believers have the attitude that they can do everything by themselves and they don’t need any one’s help. It often appears that many feel that asking for help or accepting help from others is a sign of weakness or spiritual immaturity.

This is such a travesty and a misunderstanding of what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ. God provides us with relationships with one another so that we can love one another, accept one another, help one another, give to one another, and serve one another. We cannot make it through this life alone – at least, we cannot live the way God wants us to live alone. We need God, and we also need one another. Independence may be an American virtue, but it is a Christian vice.

The next day, Saturday, my family was helping one our young, single, female friends move. (I mentioned this briefly in my post called “Weekend of Service“.) A few weeks before, this young lady began telling people that she needed help finding a place to live. Another family asked if she would like to live with them. They shuffled their boys’ bedrooms so that our friend could have a room to herself, and Saturday afternoon, a bunch of us got together, packed up her belongings, and moved her into their house.

After unloading all of the boxes, another friend brought dinner for everyone. While I was sitting there enjoying a homemade meatball sub, I remembered the encounter with the man who refused to acknowledge that he needed help, and refused to accept help when it was offered. What a stark contrast to my friends, one of whom acknowledged that she needed help and accepted the help that was offered, and a family who was willing to put their own comforts aside and offer help.

This is a beautiful picture of God’s family. Brothers and sisters recognizing their complete dependence upon God and willing to live interdependent upon one another. That evening, I couldn’t help but thank them and praise God for the example of community that he had shown me that day.


11 Comments

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  1. 5-19-2012

    great article brother, s true!

  2. 5-19-2012

    Judgements are only based on what one sees, from their owns thoughts. From their own experiences. There is truly only one that knows all. that one would be and is the creator of all.

    I never know what exactly the reason for one to refuse help. not ask, or ask. For there are motives galore, and this is where tapping into the Holy Ghost and staying tapped inn is so important, and thus react according to the love placed in us, which is not always help. Sometimes help is no help wihout knowing it

  3. 5-20-2012

    Great article. It’s something I would love in our lives but alas…
    I can answer part of your question, Howard. Why not ask or accept help? Because of repeated betrayal. In quiet politeness we seldom accep help from thought-to-be-friends or even strangers since out experience have repeatedly been one of betrayal and our ‘weakness’ being something ‘used against us’.
    You could say we are in a period of mourning, ‘licking our wounds’ allowing God to restore. We resort therefore to family’s help which seems to be much more trustworthy.
    This is seen as pride, I know, but I can assure you God has been faithful in restoring our trust, small steps and has brought friends around us little by little. And we are learning to trust again, which is the basis of any help-receiving-asked for relationship.
    Great article. Thanks

  4. 5-20-2012

    Alan,

    I was interested, and appreciative, to read anandas realistic, and down to earth comment.

    Far too often we are more interested in wanting others to believe we live in, and practice the ideal, and will not admit what is reality.

    We deceive ourselves if we develop such a mindset, with the accompanying “spiritual” pietism and language.

  5. 5-20-2012

    whenever i am in need iwull ask, God thus far has filled God’s promise
    When God said seek ye the kingdom of heaven above all things that all my needs will be supplied. All my needs are: was Life and I have received this. everything, else are wants and desires

  6. 5-20-2012

    Aussiejohn, what you say is true, there are many out there that are caught up under the law and are not free behind the scenes, I have been there and it was miserable, putting on a mask, pretending along with the pretenders, faking, acting puttin on a show, until one day that mask melts.
    My mask started to melt when I picked up a book called a man in the mirror. That is when God started to reveal me to me about how I acted behind closed doors vrs otudoors in front of others. I am sick I said to me, and even though God has shown me the truth of this and that is old now and been freed from the law. The grace I have received is still undeserved whether I sin any more or not. Heaven is now brother and can only be lived in te spirit of God. And when one starts the practice of this Galatians 5 about what is produced when one lives by the flesh or the Sirit becomes real as one gets peeled back like an onion it hurts and one goes through a lot of pain and not many continue in the pain, for it does hurt deeply brother. Yet I tell you last through it and one will understand contentment as Paul said many times. For even an onion when gotten into the middle is SWEET SWEET as what is in the Lord of Hosts. Just keep keeping on to seek from God truth, the truth that sets one free, for truth does do this man
    Love you all here
    Howard

  7. 5-21-2012

    John,

    Thanks! And thanks for linking to this story on Facebook.

    Howard,

    There’s condemnation from me here. I’m simply relating a story and telling how God used it in my own life.

    Ananda,

    Thank you so much for sharing your struggles with us! It’s great to hear how God is teaching you to trust his work in the lives of others again.

    Aussie John,

    I agree! One of the ways that God used this experience in my own life is to show me how often I refuse help from others also.

    -Alan

  8. 5-21-2012

    Alan, Please expand on what you mean there is condemnation from you here.
    for I am simply doing the same going where the story goes as we all interact here, writing how God has shown me things as well.
    Thanks Howard

  9. 5-21-2012

    Isn’t our help to others to help them see that God is the way the truth and the life, and in him you have every thing you need for life?
    Howard

  10. 5-21-2012

    Howard,

    I was simply replying to your first comment about “judgments.” My goal is not to judge anyone with this post, but to offer what God has taught me through these experiences, and how they have helped me understand what I’ve read in Scripture.

    -Alan

  11. 5-22-2012

    Alan , thank you and somehow through God in Christ we all shall grow, knowing him the only true God Jesus’s Father