“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.”
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
One of the great doctrines that most believers would theoretical espouse is the independence of God. This doctrine rightly states that God is dependent upon no one or no thing. He is outside of all that is because He was already, and made all that is. This extends even to time and space; what we refer to as infinity.
Without going into further detail on the doctrine itself, I want to deal more (devotionally) with our practical belief in this doctrine. The final resting question is, “Do we know God?”. The question most pressing is whether or not we trust Him.
I liken this to the doctrine of Scripture. They do go hand in hand. Most of us would agree that the Scriptures are inerrant and infallible, but do we live the third point of sufficiency? Do we really believe and practice the Christian life like the Bible is enough. Well, the independence of God is similar to this.
This first inquiry we need to make is this: If we believe in Him, and believe Him to be independent, do we live dependent upon Him? Certainly the sufficient Word of God gives us plenty of language, guidance, and commands to regularly practice this dependence. Even as I write, I am convicted of the arrogance of my prayerlessness and times I am apart from His Word in solitude and devotion. Isn’t that what such neglect says? Doesn’t it just scream that we are “independent” from Him when we feel as if we can live without the things He has said brings us to abide in Him?
Many have merely a forensic understanding of this, even to the point of being doctrinal / theological eggheads, yet their hearts are far from God. I’ve lived there. I don’t want to again. I think of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. Their doctrine was spot on, but their affection for Christ had grown cold. How does this happen? I believe it happens with the doctrine of God’s independence is lost, sometimes even at the point of depending on our theological understanding. It would be like believing in beliefs rather than believing in Christ. There is a huge difference.
Another inquiry relates to our churchmanship. Many professing believers believe that there are certain things they just must have in order to worship God. Whereas some of these elements can be biblical in their essential nature, it is the extra-biblical demands I’m concerned about related to depending on our independent God in worship. The hottest button would be worship style. I would certainly agree that style matters to a degree, but content matters more. Having God-exalting, Christ-centered, cross-emphasized songs is paramount. As well, it is the congregation that worships together, not others who worship for the congregation in their view. So, this leaves much ground that is nonessential, yet we will allow ourselves (as consumers) to exalt an extra-biblical thing to felt, biblical essential, therefore we declare independence from God by saying we have requirements beyond God’s for true, heartfelt, mind-engaging worship. Organs? Unnecessary. Guitars? Unnecessary. Choirs? Unnecessary. Any and all of these can benefit, and much of Scripture speaks of the use of instrumentation in various acts of the worship experience, so we should be wise in their use. However, what we are clearly called to do is to gather to edify one another, as we glorify God, by reading Scripture, praying, preaching, observing ordinances, and singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to exhort, encourage, ultimately exalt!
Another issue with churchmanship would be related to the above, but also distinct. That relates to contextualization. Contextualization has to do with how we do church in light of our present context and culture. This issue alone demands a series of blogs. So, I will suffice it to say that many churches allow the way church is done to overwhelm the Biblical clarity of what it means to BE the church. In short, if we feel as if church has to be done a certain way, yet those ways are cultural ways and means outside of Scripture, we are in the vein of idolatry and living independently from God in what we deem essential.
We could go on, but let me wrap this up with the primary issue: TRUST. To trust God you must know God. This is why doctrine matters. If you don’t want to learn more of God, you probably live with your spouse with some stale, historical level of understanding. What I mean by this is that our spouses love being known. They want to be figured out and studied so that our love, affection and leadership (as men) is informed and passionate. There is no passion apart from a desire to know more (toward a spouse or God). If we realized God’s independence and, therefore, our utter dependence upon Him, we would trust Him with all matters, being willing to regularly give that “yes” to God to the missional questions. Give more…yes. Go…yes.
This feels awfully incomplete to me, but I hope I’ve provoked just a few of you to personal examination. Do you live independent from, or dependent upon, God? Do you trust Him? Do you want to know Him? Your life depends on it!