We hear a lot about personal independence these days. We’re told to “be your own person” and encouraged not to follow the crowd. And there’s a lot of truth to that, because “the crowd” doesn’t always make godly decisions.
But as focused as we are on independence, we need to be reminded of one thing: God created us to be dependent beings. We are created to rely on Him and Him alone. That means personal independence is a deception and a perversion of God’s plan.
He created us to be dependent on a number of things, but chief among them is dependence on God Himself.
Have you ever noticed how often Scripture compares mankind to sheep? Sheep are weak, vulnerable animals. They can’t protect themselves. They aren’t aggressive, don’t have sharp teeth, and are poor navigators. Sheep can’t travel any distance without help and get lost easily.
Because of this, sheep can’t provide very well for themselves. They lack the predatory skills to gather food independently.
God looks at us and says, “You’re my sheep.” What does this mean? In essence, He’s saying, “You need me. I created you without the ability to get where you’re going or provide for yourself.”
It’s not surprising, then, when Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. We are dependent on God to guide us, provide for us, and protect us. Remember Psalm 23? “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”A person who understands his or her weakness and accepts the need for God’s protection and leadership is a person who will live a life of incredible blessing and fullness.
It is only when we pursue independence—when we are convinced we can make it on our own—that we get into trouble. That’s the reason Satan was able to lead Adam and Eve into rebellion in the Garden.
Human nature desires independence. Our fallen nature is such that we hate being dependent upon anything, including God. The prophet Isaiah said it best: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
In fact, I would go so far as to say an independent spirit is at the core of human sin. Yet the more mature we become in Christ, the healthier we become—and the more we accept the fact that we must be dependent upon God.
The essence of successful Christianity is a daily dependence upon the Lord for all our significant needs. The prayerful, trusting believer has accepted his or her dependence upon Christ and has learned to trust in Him daily as a faithful shepherd.
Isaiah 40:11 describes what this relationship looks like: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.”
God has promised us gentle, loving provision and protection. Don’t let your desire for independence keep you from missing out on His blessing.