Strong, But Not Alone
Consider with me for a moment how it is God has made us.
God did not make the human body self-standing & autonomous like a rock or a mountain.
But interconnected and depended.
We normally hunger for food at least three times a day. Our strength is sapped without it, and we cannot live much more than a month without food.
Still more precious is water, and most precious of all is air.
This fragile life that we cling too can be snuffed out in the near 90 seconds of deprivation of oxygen.
And emotionally too we are dependent. Without touch, an infant will die. Without human contact, even the most hardened criminal will shrivel and die a tortuous emotional death in solitary confinement.
The great lie of the devil is that strength comes from within. You must be strong on your own, be a rock. Love no-one, touch no one, rely on no-one and nothing. Be alone, be strong & stand tall.
In stark contrast to this are Jesus’ words: I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not rest in me, he is cast away as a branch, and he withers and dies. (John 15)
For the wise Christian, strength rests not in being independent, but in being inter-dependent. To be in good fellowship, and in good spiritual form.
Like a sapling nestled among strong trees that hold the soil in place, we must situate ourselves among good fellowship.
This is not to say our branches cannot intertwine with those who do not yet know God. If we do not touch them, how else can the seeds of God’s presence drop into their lives?
But our roots must be among those who love God, so that we may drinking their nurture, and learn to love more dearly the one true God.
And we must be learned to be in shape. Taking regularly are times of confessing and intercession with the brethren. Not avoiding our weekly meetings together for teaching, prayer and worship. Eating our nurture at least daily. Breathing the spirit of forgiveness, praise and reconciliation and repentance every minute.
For the Christian, as for the human, strength is not in independence, but in reliance on the spring of life, in fellowship with the saints who drink from the same fountain.
So do not believe the lie of the Devil: do not believe for a moment you will be stronger for cutting yourself away and standing tall.
Rather, you must open yourself, love, be loved, be vulnerable and be dependant. On God, and on those God has put in your life to be conduits of His love and vitality to you.
Of course, there are levels of independence. When a child becomes a teen, then may feel that they are severing all their ties, to stand “alone and proud” in their new emotional and social independence. But they are not really independent. They just feel like it because they are just a little less dependent now, and the comparison makes it feel like “freedom, glorious freedom!” The same way they will feel when they leave home for the first time. But they are not really independent. They soon find they are in need of social networks, and parents haven’t usually really “left” even if they are distant geographically.
And yes – because I know this will come up in the comments if I don’t say it – there is a sort of relationship called “codependence” where a couple becomes TOO MUCH dependent on one another, and they must learn to push back a bit, to learn to “stand on their own two feet.” However, although we may TELL people to “be strong, stand on your own two feet, learn to do life on your own,” we don’t really MEAN it! We’re just trying to correct one extreme by pushing hard in the other direction. We’re not telling them to isolate themselves from every human contact in order to “stand strong.” Rather, we are telling them to find GOOD human contact, and especially to learn to find strength directly from God, as David was able to do. (See post “Why Young Men Should Never Counsel Women.”)
But to be estranged from the nourishment of the earth is to die. To scorn human companionship is to wither. To remain cut off from God is to suffer the second death.
We must be connected not only to be strong, but even to live.