Posted by: thebylog | July 24, 2005

Radical Dependence Upon God

“How do you overcome apathy in the materialistic culture we find ourselves in? How do you develop a radical dependence on God alone, when practically speaking (at least regarding things we can see and feel) we don’t need Him?

It’s this kind of radical dependence that is essential to developing a passionate relationship with God.”

I wrote those two paragraphs a year and a half ago. Currently I’m entertaining the distinct possibility that the only way to develop a radical dependence upon God alone is to force the issue by sacrificially giving to the point where we are left with no other choice but to trust God to come through for us.

To look at it another way, what in the world is keeping Christians from giving their material lives away to the point where they have to become radically dependent on God to survive?

But I’m scared of that, scared to death.

I freak out to think of giving away so much of my livelihood that God is literally what must sustain me. But is that or is that not a Biblical outlook? I mean, at the very least, until there are no more poor (and by poor I don’t mean able-bodied persons that aren’t willing to work) in the world, we’re obligated to give our excess away, no?

And how can we say we’re honestly trusting God with what we have if we’re basking in excess?

Think about the areas in your life in which God has taught you to trust Him. Aren’t those areas the ones in which you in some way have come to the end of yourself, forcing you to make a conscious decision about how you are going to deal with it? Well, to be perfectly honest, I feel that my faith is microscopic and one reason is that there’s no reason for me to trust God because my life is so stinkin’ easy and good!

I might be selling myself a bit short in some areas, but that’s certainly not inaccurate when thinking of my life materially.

Check out Matthew 6:19ff. This passage is one of those that usually is explained away, but if it says “don’t lay up money and stuff in this world,” what does that mean? When it uses the analogy of a bird who worries about what it needs only from day to day, what does that mean? When it says we shouldn’t worry about food, drink, or clothing and that we shouldn’t worry about the next day, what does it mean? And then it says that the Gentiles worry about all their food, drink, and clothing, implying that we shouldn’t be like them.

This is an admittedly high standard, one which I would guess only a tiny percentage of professed Christendom have lived up to throughout the years. But I would also guess that if you were able to look into the lives of Christians who lived God’s-hand-to-their-mouth lifestyles, He didn’t let them down and worked hugely through them.

There are probably plenty of reasons this isn’t a “feasible” idea and since I can’t think of all of them I don’t mind if you throw some out. Then you decide if they are reasons or excuses.

Here’s one: Does Byran’s attitude change if he is responsible for a family?

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Responses

  1. I use to think that I had to work at least 40 or more hours a week to just survive. God has used my current unemployment and part-time (16 hrs/wk) employment (almost three years to date) to open my eyes to the materialistic rut that I am in.

    When we focus on the things of the world and not on the Word of God we fall into the trap of materialism and selfishness.

    The hardest thing to realize is to look back at all you had and wonder what happened to it all. I would pass this on to everyone, but especially to all young and able persons; live on as little as you can, save a little, but give the most to God, both time and money. Matthew 6:19-34 is our direction here, but especially verse 33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his rightousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The things here are food, shelter and clothing, our necessities, but God is generous in the extras at times too. Just do not expect those extras or the slippery slope of materialism begins anew.

    I think you have a good thought in developing a radical dependence on God. We can only do this by allowing God full control of our material existence, but as you sense, it is the fear of our loosing control of our life that hampers us in allowing God to have full control of our lives. Yet without His control our life is lost.

    Maybe it is the Christian work ethic that has been subverted by the spirit of this age that is our problem. We have been trained to work hard for our needs and the needs of others. The spirit of this world then says for us to selfishly use what we earn for our own pleasure and to save for the proverbial rainy day, thus the work of the kingdom goes unfinanced and lacks the workers needed in the harvest of souls because of our self indulgence.

    “Does Byran’s attitude change if he is responsible for a family?”

    No. Because he would be one flesh with another in an equal yoke of commitment to God. He would then use the teaching in Matthew 6:19-34 to train his children in trusting God. And I would hope that we all realize that our families are God’s anyway, so why would we fight for control if He owns them? Because we are sinners?

    This is my opinion, I have wrestled with this issue daily in my marriage and family, and still do so since the children have married and moved on. My success was limited if existant at all, time will tell if I ever get it right.

  2. “One can’t truly seek God and still protect one’s heart.”

    Oh the truth and oh the vulnerability that it requires!

    Ag

  3. By, you seem to have a tendency to write about stuff that most Christians don’t want to talk about.:)

    I know what my dad’s comeback would be on the subject though. He would ask where responsibility comes in. If you literally “lived on the edge” as you are suggesting, Someone would have to provide for you. But, from what my dad has observed, people who do that (i.e., live on the edge) tend to mooch off other people, (is it mooching or is it God’s provision of generous people in the pathway of your life?) which means someone else has to suport them since they don’t do it themselves. So, my dad says, “What if everyone would do that?” He thinks this type of lifestyle takes advantage of other people’s hard-earned resources. And I will admit, he does seem to have a point. So, I guess my question is, “Can you be fully dependent on God without mooching off other people?” OR, “Is that what God wants more of– less dependence on our own self-sufficiency and more dependence on other Christians and Him to supply our needs (that would draw us all together more)?” (I don’t know if any of this makes sense or not– it’s all very stream-of-consciousness.)

    –Delia

  4. The “radical dependence on God alone” is so much bigger than material things. I’d say (from experience) that God wants us to know we’re utterly dependent on him for salvation, every breath we take, and everything good we accomplish.
    He may call you to voluntary poverty but as a child of a man who had five children on a tiny salary and turned down a raise, I would encourage you to be really careful with this.

  5. Should you buy health insurance? My dad didn’t think so. My husband does.

    Should you buy life insurance?

    How do we define needs?

    Does it bug you to support missionaries that don’t live all that frugally?

    May I advertise my new blog? Or is that against proper blogging proticol? I’m Byran’s aunt with some of the same genes and the same enjoyment of pondering deep questions. I am a new mother, so for parenting and mothering and any other sundry thoughts that come to my brain, visit me at http://lyricsop.blogspot.com/2005/07/its-all-new-for-me_23.html

  6. Byran,
    You are an amazing writer, and your post was so deep. You have a passion for God and for the things of God that comes out in what you have to say. I miss you.
    You favorite cousin 🙂
    Amanda Beachy

  7. Dorcas, thanks for your caution. I’ve been thinking about “giving” recently and how that I really don’t give sacrificially, and I’m trying to flesh that out and figure out what’s the way to go. What about the verses that I referred to, though? Don’t we make them say what we want them to say?

    Delia, I guess I wasn’t thinking of it in the “mooching” context. The responsibility deal is a serious one to consider.

  8. That’s the second time in one day that I ran across AG (Anonymous)’s quote “One can’t truly seek God and still protect one’s heart.” Can anyone tell me its origin? It calls for for meditation.

  9. “What about the verses that I referred to, though? Don’t we make them say what we want them to say?”

    To be honest, Byran, I don’t know what about those verses. What is laying up treasure? What is being a wise steward if God blesses you financially?
    What is worrying about food and clothes? I don’t know how to reconcile this with Ruth gleaning in the field, Dorcas sewing for the poor, He that does not work shall not eat, and the fact that keeping my family clothed and fed has almost always required planning and work on my part.
    Was Jesus talking in hyperbole as in “If your hand offends you, cut it off”??

  10. Oh,*laughs* I knew you weren’t thinking of it in the “mooching context”, Byran. I just happen to have a perverse brain that enjoys spinning off on its own tangents sometimes.:) Please, excuse me.

    –Delia

  11. Very interesting thoughts on dependence…One thing to ponder is that everything is not black and white with God. He does leave some gray matter. The gray matter is so that we relate personally with our Creator. What is right for one is not always right for the other (i.e. food or drink). Read Romans 14 as it deals with disputable matters. Whether you make money and store it, or make money and give it away, do so unto the Lord and be CONVINCED it is what the Lord is calling you to do. There were plenty of wealthy people such as Job who were dependent upon God even in the midst of their wealth. God took everything from Job, not to teach Job a lesson, but to demonstrate Job’s faithfulness to Satan.

    There are some matters within the Christian walk that are dependent upon our relationship with the Father.


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