DEPENDENCE ON GOD
Jesus came not only to die for our sins, but also to show the world what God is really like in person. He said that if anyone looked at Him, it was as good as looking at God the Father. Also at the same time, as long as He was on earth as a man, Jesus lived as an example for us to learn how to live before God as human beings.
One of the things He told people in this context, as an example of living as a man before God, was that He never did, and never could do, anything from His own initiative. In other words, He followed the Father in doing what He wanted Him to do, even when it came to finally dying on the cross. He lived a life that was entirely dependent on the Father, in terms of direction and strength. Is it not this way that He wants us also to live, in a moment by moment dependence on God?
Jesus defined eternal life not in terms of time, not as living forever, but in terms of knowing God (Jn.17:3). Adam and Eve were given the privilege of living and walking with God in the garden and talking with Him at all times. They could have eaten from the tree of life and continued this relationship and life forever. But they fell for Satan’s lie and thought that it would be advantageous to get the knowledge of good and evil for themselves and become like God. Satan’s implied meaning was that then they would not need to refer to God all the time, but they would be able to make their own decisions based on their knowledge and understanding. They did not seem to recognise the real consequence of this choice that, in gaining their independence, they would also lose their relationship with God.
It does not seem that we human beings have learned from this mistake even after the death of Jesus on our behalf has made it possible to restore our relationship with God. We like our independence and do not seem to be too keen to relinquish it even after we receive Jesus as our Saviour. We are not too eager to make Him the Lord of our lives, in a practical sense, are we?
Satan seems to give an impression to many people that Jesus is helplessly and desperately waiting outside the door and knocking, hoping that we would let Him in. It is as if it is not we who need a Saviour but He needs us to ‘accept’ Him! After letting Him inside (because we don’t want to go to hell), we think we are the masters who can now tell our new genie to do errands for us! Some of us even think that God has given us the right to command Him (misunderstanding Isa.45:11 KJV).
Some Christian leaders are coming out with new teachings that are different in essence and emphasis from the understanding of the early church and godly people, till the second half of the last century. They imply that when a man is born again, God restores to him everything that man lost with the Fall. Apparently, God has endowed him with power and authority equivalent to God Himself which he can now exercise freely.
Certainly there is some power and authority given to a child of God to exercise under the direction and authority of God. But it is to be exercised in the name of Jesus, meaning under the authority of Jesus and according to His will, rather than by man himself, independently. According to some teachers it is man’s faith, which he generates for himself or which God has once for all granted to him, that holds the key to what he can accomplish. They say that through his words of faith he can release the power to make whatever he wishes to happen. In effect, this makes man more or less a self- sufficient person.
But faith is not a force or substance that gives us power to make things happen, or to get God to do things for us, but essentially our trust and confidence in God who can do for us all things that we need. Doesn’t true faith make us more dependent on God and less on ourselves?
Some Christians are teaching nowadays that the dominion Adam and Eve were created to have over everything (Gen.1:28), and which they lost when they sinned, Jesus has now restored to us when we are born again. In effect, we are in a position to make things happen to our advantage at all times, and it is only our faith that limits the scope of what we can do! According to this, a child of God need never suffer from sickness, poverty, calamity or oppression from people or demons. Christians who follow these teachings now adopt a position of authority over everything and everyone, commanding things to happen. It seems gone are the days when Christians used to pray to God to do things for them in the name of Jesus. Now they think they have authority given to them so that they can use it virtually independent of Jesus!
Even though Jesus has redeemed us from the hands of Satan with His blood, we are still living in this sin-corrupted world. Not everything is in our hands, and we are therefore groaning under the things we have to suffer, and our reign will start only when Jesus comes back again. Here we are only able to see things dimly and not perfectly, and we do not even know what we should pray for. We are so much dependent on God to show us what we should do, and to equip us with strength to do it. It is unrealistic, to say the least, to imagine that we are reigning over the earth at this time.
Possibly changes such as these have come about through an insidious influence of eastern religions where God may be considered as an impersonal force that can be tapped into and man himself is essentially god in nature. (In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Christian teachers say that a born again man is essentially a god with a small ‘g’.) According to this concept, without submitting to God or living in dependence on Him man can act like a god on earth. By adopting various techniques and exercises, man can get access to the power inside him and exercise it for his own advantage. Have Christians now adopted this into using ‘faith’ and the ‘power of words’ to get things done?
Another mark of man moving away from dependence on God is the way many Christians are discarding the Bible as their final authority on moral standards, or on what God wants us to do. Instead of looking at what God would want us to do in different situations, people are now seeking to be in touch with current thinking and opinions. Worldviews are being modified on different counts by small numbers of activists who outshout the majority. Christian leaders dare not stand against popular views for fear of being classified as fundamentalist or narrow minded people.
If Christians are a minority in the world, those who want to stand firmly with God are fewer still. Who wants to stand like Athanasius who said, “If the world is against me, I am against the world”?