Each year at the beginning of July, America celebrates Independence. Dissenting colonists, touting self-determination and individualism, set the country in motion based on these ideals. Since the time Thomas Jefferson penned the famous Declaration, the concept of independence has continued to work its way into American society.
If it ever was possible to uphold independence as a cultural ideal, however, that time has passed. In our increasingly connected world, to live “independently” is to ignore the fact that everything, from the food we eat to the machines we rely on, is a product of a multitude of people we will never know. We are dependent upon and interwoven with the lives of others all across the world in everything we do. Moreover, as we shed light on how interconnected we truly are, independence and individualism become more and more destructive:
Independence is built upon perfectionism. It calls us to mask our weaknesses, flaunt our strengths, and push away anyone who gets close enough to notice our flaws.
Independence is the myth of self-empowerment. It tempts us toward the implosive belief that with just the right amount of willpower and sweat, we can achieve whatever we want for ourselves.
Independence is an ideology of selfishness. It undermines authentic relationships and growth and replaces them with competition and comparison.
All around us culture sings this siren call of individualism. Yet, when we reflect on the message of Christ, we see something entirely different: the concept of interdependence.
The invitation of Christ-centered community is to step into a counter-cultural space that replaces “me” with “we.” We endeavor to integrate our lives with those around us toward the purposes of God’s kingdom, and as we do so, the Bible reframes our perspective around identity, success, and failure.
Interdependence is celebratory. When we let go of independence, we no longer feel threatened by others’ successes and instead can join them in enjoying their God-given strengths with the knowledge that our unique differences make us stronger.
Interdependence is humbling. When we recognize that our strengths are given and not earned, we are forced to release our pride and root our identity in the Giver, rather than the gift.
Interdependence is freeing. While society tells us that our accomplishments define us, interdependence allows us to boldly acknowledge our limitations, knowing that God considers us beloved and will accomplish his purposes for us.
As a church family this fourth of July, Awakening had the opportunity to join in the rest of the country in celebrating Independence Day. Every day for the rest of the year, we now have the exciting opportunity to engage in an ongoing celebration of our interdependence.
Thus as we continue in the messy process of authentic community, let’s together continue to come back to Paul’s words in Romans 12:5: “So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” For, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)