The 4th of July is almost here, but is independence really what we should be focusing on? Join AMBrewster as he discusses the beauty and necessity of dependence in the family.
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Happy Almost 4th of July!
Not only are we cruising into the 4th of July weekend, but today marks the conclusion of Season 2, and I’m looking forward to sliding right into Season 3 on the 4th of July with a series about how you can experience real, genuine, lasting, contagious peace right smack in the middle of your greatest parenting challenges.
But despite the issues we may have in our homes that steal our peace, most Americans have at least one things to be incredibly thankful — and that’s our nation’s freedoms. And this time of year in the US, we’re reminded constantly about one particular blessing — our independence.
Back in 1776 we proclaimed our independence from England, and we’ve celebrated that independence almost 250 times since.
But I propose to you that — no matter where you live — when it comes to your families, you should take a very different approach.
But more on that in a minute.
If you’re on social media, I want to remind you that you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, pin us on Pinterest, and love our pictures and videos on Instagram. Just search Truth.Love.Parent. and receive daily encouragement, challenges, and Truth to help you become the parent God wants you to be.
So, what part does independence have in our families?
Among children, independence is a big deal. They’re constantly working toward that next tier which will provide them additional privileges or responsibilities. Whether it’s a bike or a car, these modes of transportation carry with them the promise of new independence. Other cultural rites of passage do the same including a child’s first sleepover which we talked about in episode 62, their school which we’ll be talking a lot about near the end of summer, and that first job.
But is all this focus on independence good and healthy?
We know that some families take it too far. In certain situations, minors are legally allowed to gain emancipation from their parents. And though I don’t imagine that’s a real threat with most of you, I want to suggest that perhaps there may be too strong a focus on independence in your home, and not enough on dependence.
Let’s take a few moments to look at both, and consider the impact these very different ideas should have on your family.
Merriam-Webster defines independence as “freedom from outside control or support.”
In many ways, it’s nice to be independent from a foreign power or sex traffickers, but there are realities in this universe that we will be eternally dependent on, and — if we were smart — we would stop trying to be gain independence from.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m thankful for my country’s independence, and I’m working toward the day my children no longer need my financial support, but I don’t want my children to ever seek after or feel the need to achieve total independence from me.
Now, before you think me to be a control freak, let me also add that in the same ways I want my children to be dependent on me, I have been called by God to be dependent on you. So, let’s take a moment to open God’s Word and consider the Doctrine of Dependence and how embracing that reality can transform our families.
As we consider the Doctrine of Dependence, the most obvious reality is that . . .
1. We Need to Be Dependent on God
We need to be dependent on God.
The first place I want to look is Jesus Himself. Jesus prayed a lot (which in itself is instructional), but right in the midst of the longest recorded prayer Jesus outlines for us just how dependent we need to be. We call the prayer His High Priestly Prayer, and I want to quote a few lines for you.
John 17:20-24 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
To the exact same degree that the Father was in Jesus, and Jesus was in the Father, to the exact same degree that Jesus is one with the Father, we too must be one with God.
This is a relationship of dependence — Christ in us, the Father in Christ, us in Him.
This is so necessary because we cannot do any part of life by ourselves. In John 15, Jesus says, “1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
We must be in Christ as He is in us.
This relationship is organic, symbiotic, and — from our standpoint — utterly dependent on Him because apart from Him we can do nothing.
Your family doesn’t need more independence. It needs a greater dependence on God if you’re going to be able to glorify Him.
He managed to gain complete independence from his family, and increasingly more independence within the nation of Egypt, but he was constantly and always dependent on his Lord for everything he was and did.
And it’s because of our dependence on God that — secondly . . .
2. We Need to Be Dependent on His Word
We need to be dependent on His Word.
1. One of the reasons we need the Bible so much is It connects us to God.
There are many things we can know about God through His creation, but those things are limited, and can never introduce us to a saving relationship with Him.
Therefore, we must know the Word which has been inspired by Him. The first chapter of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
The second to the last chapter says, “31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Christ was the physical Word, and the Scriptures were written to record everything we need to know about the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Romans 10 reveals the following, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Your children cannot have a relationship with God or know the mind of God apart from His Word. Therefore our families must be dependent on it for our relationship with the Lord.
2. The second reason we’re to be dependent on the Word is It purifies us.
Psalm 119:9 tells us, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
We cannot be purified apart from the Bible. Our righteousness is as filthy rags; only by the washing of regeneration and the word can we be presented before the Father spotless and clean.
If you want your family to be righteous and pure and holy, you must be completely dependent on the teachings of the Bible.
3. Thirdly, It guides us.
Psalm 119:105 pictures the Word as a light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
This is one of a myriad of passages that teaches that we must be dependent on the Word of God to know the right way, make the right decisions, and fulfill our purpose.
If you want your family to glorify God in the choices it makes, you must be dependent on the Bible as it reveals God’s will to you.
4. So, we must be dependent on the Bible because it connects us to God, it purifies us, it guides us, and It corrects us when we’ve gone astray.
In II Timothy 3 we read, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
If you want to help your children and your spouse and yourself fix behaviors, address character flaws, and grow into maturity, you need God’s Word.
But our family’s dependence doesn’t stop there.
We need to be dependent on God and His Word, that’s obvious. But . . .
3. We Need to Be Dependent on Other Christians
We need to be dependent on other Christians.
The time would lose us to discuss all the “One Anothers” in the Bible. I encourage your family to do a word search on the “one another” passages and really discuss all the verses in the New Testament that describe how we should be “one anothering” each other. You’ll easily discover all the things your family members should be doing with each other and other members of the Body of Christ, but you’ll also learn how very badly you need other Christians ministering in your lives.
There’s also a plethora to be said in the Scriptures about Christian unity. The High Priestly prayer deals with this, but it’s in so many of Paul’s epistles. One example is I Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
Your family members really need to be dependent on the Christians in your local Body of Christ if they’re going to function in a way that glorifies God.
So, this Independence Day we need to realize our dependence on God, His word, other Christians, but . . .
4. We Need to Be Dependent on Our Family Members
We need to be dependent on our family members.
From the standpoint of the One Anothers, it’s clear that born again believers within your family are dependent on each other. In the same way I should be sharpening my son and helping him become the man God wants him to be, my born again son should be one-anothering me and helping me to become the man God’s wants me to be.
But even if people in your family are unsaved, God has created a multi-dependent community and every passage that discusses family relationships is layering yet another level of dependency. I’m thinking specifically of all the scriptural admonitions to children to learn from their parents.
Please understand that I’m not preaching some flawed version of codependence.
And it’s true that independence from sin, evil, wickedness, and dictatorial regimes is to be celebrated. But there are far more Christ-honoring forms of dependence we should be celebrating in our families.
If — as you pass these truths on to your kids — you would like to have these ideas in a PDF form, please check out our episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com.
I also encourage you to really pray about this topic. Ask the Lord where you’re not dependent on Him enough. Pray for your children that they would be dependent on you in the right ways, and ask God to reveal those areas you should be more dependent on your spouse and kids.
And don’t miss our next episode when we start a discussion about how you can experience true peace in your parenting. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Remember, God designed the family to work. It’s a vibrant, living example of so many biblical realities from the unity of Christ and the church to discipleship to salvation and sanctification. And if your family isn’t working the way God created it to, He’s given everything you need to start moving in that direction.
And we here at Truth.Love.Parent. thoroughly enjoy being a part of that process.
See you next time.
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