There is an independent streak in me that runs a mile deep. I don’t want to be in need or in want of anything that I cannot provide for myself. Part of this comes from an upbringing that led me to false conclusions that associated need with weakness. Some of it is a God given struggle as I lost both of my parents at an early age.
Somehow, over the years, I have assimilated this independence as a spiritual virtue that I shifted over into the notion of a “God and me alone” principle. It is expressed in the statement, “God is all I need.”
This may sound like a pious and accurate truth at face value. I can imagine the three people who read this saying, “Don, what could possibly be wrong with the statement that God is all you need?” As a general statement it is accurate and good. But in the practice, it has been spiritually detrimental.
I follow the God of Scripture, who has made humanity to dwell together in community. I serve a God who gives good gifts to His children. I seek to honor a God who has given me a plethora graces for my life. And it would be foolish to turn around and seek to only comfort myself internally. I have thought often that the only resources that really matter are internal resources I have for encouraging myself in the Lord.
Is it okay to lean on a godly wife? Is it okay to find solace in a good meal? When I am down and depressed should I expect to somehow pull myself out of it by an internal strength of relationship privately between me and God?
This may seem like a very nuanced problem, but it is a pretty big deal as I am interacting with people in the church. We are increasingly independent, increasingly private in our struggles, and increasingly desperate for help and attention. And I believe that Satan wants to isolate people. His game is to convince us that we do not need community. He wants us to think that we can manage our problems and issues on our own. And in doing so, he cuts us off from some of the most significant graces God has offered. We need the community of others to grow into healthy and mature Christ-followers. And we need to recognize the abundance of his material graces around us, to remind us of His goodness and kindness toward us.
We need to be careful to not idolize material blessing, community, or even specific relationships. Instead, we need to enjoy these things in gratitude and thankfulness to God. He is the God who gives us good gifts. His grace to us often has real arms to hold us. Real eyes to cry tears with us. Real mouths to laugh and smile with us.
We are made for community. If we are not vitally connected to others, we are certainly missing one of the most fundamental graces that God has given for our walk in this world.