Updated: Oct 6, 2021
Dependence. This morning I read an excerpt from Paul David Tripp’s book, A Quest for More. The excerpt indicated that Satan tempted Adam and Eve with autonomy from God and transcendence over the life God graciously gave them. In believing and acting upon Satan’s deception, Adam and Eve’s existence shrunk. They became less than what God created them to be. Their desire for independence did not make them capable of independence. Their passion for transcendence did not result in a better life than what God provided for them. They were not and we are not created to be self-existent. They were not and we are not made for more than what God made us for. It is impossible for us to be anything more or experience anything more than what God created us for.
Jesus makes the point about our dependence upon God in Matthew 6. The sermon in these chapters is Jesus’ teaching on what real life is like with God. His underlying message is that we are created beings, who by our God-given limits, never were intended to be independent beings who can experience more than what God purposed in our creation. Let us not miss the point that in our creation, God did not hold back. Jeremy Pierre describes man’s creation, “They were the physical representation of an invisible God in this place of clay and water. Adam and Eve functioned spiritually like God – they possessed knowledge, had desires, made choices – using neurons and nerves, blood and bones. Angels were in awe.” God created Adam as the best version of himself. Nothing was missing in God’s creation of Adam. God created him complete. Sin mars this image and leaves us looking for more. Sin working in us drives us to the pursuit of everything that is less than what God intended. The pursuit for more always disappoints and leaves us less than what we are created to be.
Jesus addresses the pursuit of more through righteous actions (vs. 1), giving to the poor (vs. 2-4), public prayer (vs. 5-8), and fasting (vs. 16-18). These are truly good practices for every believer, but not as a source of finding greater meaning and purpose. These are things we do because these practices reflect the God in whose image we are created. It is only the deception of Satan that takes away what is already given only to offer it back to us either in some twisted manner presenting it as an end in itself or the means to something more. Do not believe Satan’s lie that we are incomplete, needing something more. In God, we are most complete.
Jesus’ message on prayer is thoroughly about our dependence. We are children and God is our Father. Life is about God. It is His name we are called to glorify, make hollow, and not our own name. We are citizens of His kingdom rather than rulers of our own kingdom. We are bound to His will and have no capacity to elevate our will over His will. We are part of His limitless universe, yet we attempt to shrink God to our self-defined and limited universe. We are dependent upon Him for bread, the most meager need for existence. We are incapable of healthy relationships apart from the forgiveness He makes available to us paving the way for a reconciled vertical relationship and thus reconciled horizontal relationships. We are bound to sin, practice sin, think sin, and be motivated by sin on our own. We have no power to defeat, utilize, or overcome sin on our own. Our only hope in overcoming sin is turning to God. We are absolutely dependent upon God because this is how we are created. This dependence on God is not less, but it is the most. It is everything.
Jesus addresses the passion or treasures of our hearts (vs. 19-23). We think we know what is best. We are like toddlers who have a moment of life experience and are instructing their parents on what they need for fulfillment in life. We are infinite beings attempting to educate I AM about the best place to invest our treasures. We choose the security of this world to invest our treasures and our hearts. Jesus warns that this is a foolish investment and invites us to invest in a place of eternal security. Jesus further instructs us by emphasizing the importance of our investment because it is not just our treasure that is at stake, but our very core, our heart, is at stake. Jesus is warning us that both our treasure and our hearts will be plundered if we invest it anything less than what we are created for, anything less than the eternal.
The irony of our struggle for independence is our anxious soul. We want both our own way, and all that God has to offer. We want autonomy, yet we are disappointed when God abandons us. We blame God when we do not get what we want. The “both, and” way of life leads us to believe we can choose as we desire, but not accept the responsibility of our decisions. But we are consumed with worry because in our independence we wonder if we will get what we want. Jesus teaches us that we should be anxious on our own because we cannot do it alone and never were intended to live alone. Anxiety is a gift from God to alert us to our striving for independence rather than dependence upon Him and His provision.
Jesus teaches us that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot love God and love self equally. We must choose. When we reject God, we also accept the responsibility and obligations of autonomy. Adam and Eve never worried in the Garden of Eden. They never lost sleep for the sake of an anxious soul. They did not fret over food, clothing, decisions, acceptance, God, or the future. They simply enjoyed the life God provided for them as dependent, contented beings. The garden itself was a living, visible testimony of God’s presence and care. In rejecting God, they accepted the responsibility of providing for self and the anxiety attached to their independence. We face the same anxiety found in Matthew 6:25-34 when we seek independence. We are created to be dependent beings trusting the Infinite One. It is only as we live in this dependence that our anxious souls will be at rest.
Jesus offers a beautiful, open invitation. He invites us to set aside the “quest for more,” and accept all that we were created for. He invites us to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. He invites us to rest in the One who has perfectly provided for us in every way imaginable way. He invites us to return to dependent living that we are created for.
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