Thursday, April 2, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

I read this frequently in various books: “we should have complete dependence on God.” Do you think it’s possible or desirable to be completely dependent on God?

38 comments:

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

To let Gods strength and my weakness work together, we need the dependence on God.
=> Desirable? Yes!

But how should the realisation look like? Any hints?
=> Possible? Probably, but how?

Greg said...

Lukas und Celine,
Thanks. Strength in weakness, but does that translate into complete dependence? What does my weakness and God's strength look like? Thoughts?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Considering every own possibility as too weak, i.e. not able to help myself in my everyday life with the everyday problems and not able to live as a follower of Jesus out of my strength, and instead feeling reliant on God, i.e. needing his coming into action, translates to... Hmm... Not dependence?

Greg said...

Lukas and Celine,
I wonder how much God would like us to be strong in our faith in everyday living as we face everyday problems?

My wager would be that he wants us to grow stronger, not so that we are not reliant on him, but so that in our own spirituality we learn to be focused on Christ and seek to be following in his footsteps. Maybe God would like us to be more independent?

Susan said...

I don't think God would want us so dependent that we are puppets but I find, in my part of the world, that some people see dependance on God as a weakness and therefore would rather be self-sufficient. Others are not fully convinced that God loves them so do not trust Him to the point where they could rely on him for anything.

Greg said...

Susan,
Thanks. Helpful. Seems like attempts at being self sufficent or being so dependent as to be puppets, are polarizations to avoided, as they are both weaknesses of the wrong sort.

If complete or no dependence on God are problems, what kind of dependence do you think God is after?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

I think,
God is after the totally dependent yet acting follower.

I don't think he wants us independent. But he gave us (new) life, therefore we are no puppets. And puppets is not what he wants - he wants "worshipers/adorers" (I don't know the correct English word for it).

Lukas

Susan said...

I think Psalm 123:2 is a picture which describes our dependancy on God.

"As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God"

Greg said...

Lukas,
How can one be totally dependent and acting?

Seems to me that God has a creational perspective and therefore wants us to be creative, care for and cultivate the garden, make discoveries, and develop culture. I'm not sure that he just wants worshipers? What do you think about a creation perspective?

Greg said...

Susan,
Must be getting close to 11Pm or so there.

How do you take this Psalm in relation to Paul telling us that we're free in Christ?

Susan said...

Yes we are free, Greg, we freely choose to look to God for his direction for our life.

We can depend on God because we know he loves us and his plans for our lives are good. We can also depend on God for peace and strength in times of difficult.

Actually it is only 10:30pm here!but daylight saving ends this week end.

Greg said...

Susan,
I still come back to the creation mandate, as I said to Lukas. God seems to want us to do things on our own - to be stewards of all that he has made. And then back to the redemption mandate to be free to serve others. Doesn't God want us to do this?

John said...

My two cents:

I hear people say "All I need is me and my Jesus." I'm not going to stereotype who says this, but I have heard it often in Christian circles, especially at the college I attended. Honestly, I think this is a simplistic, small worldview Christianity that is not helpful.

I also don't think it is desirable to have total dependence and community with God! If we are made to be in community with others on Earth...and we will spend eternity with others (and not just God)...then it seems to me that we are made to be in community with other humans AND God. The lack of one or the other would be an incomplete life.

Greg said...

John,
Thanks. Good insights. "Me and my Jesus" sound so syrupy. Bound to be the motto for the real spiritual Christian.

Why do you think the complete dependence notion seems so spiritual to so many?

John said...

Greg -
Seems like a leftover from Modernist/Gnostic thinking. The body is bad, the spiritual is good. This world is (fully) bad and we'd be better off without it. That kind of thinking.

It's a leftover I don't want to eat, that's for sure.

I think believing it has the allure of making life simpler, of insulating oneself from real life, real hurts, real feelings. It's a safe way to leave, but not a real way to live, I think. And I think that's the draw.

Greg said...

John,
So if the body and earthly are important to God and spirituality, what might being dependent on God be formulated like?

Anita said...

Shouldn't being in a state of dependence or reliance on God free us from trying to make our lives follow a specific path? And, can we really move towards reliance on God outside of real, human relationships that we learn to depend upon?
I

John said...

Greg -
Before we answer that I think we have to ask what we are dependent on God for.

I don't know that I can name specifics to everyday life, but I think we are dependent on God for salvation, for earthly life as well. So ultimately we are totally dependent on God, but in the day to day details of life, maybe not so much. Thoughts on this or things to add?

Then we can talk about how to configure our reliance, or dependence, on God.

Greg said...

Anita,
Welcome. Thanks for the insightful questions.

I would say that the path is a creational - redemptive one and that there are a diversity of ways of following that path. So in that sense, Yes, to your first question.

Real human relationships seem to be one of the central contexts where dependence on God can express itself. So, No, I don't think we can move towards reliance on God without them.

What other dimensions would be relevant to depending on God?

Greg said...

John,
True.

How about this? We're dependent on God for revealing something of who he is, something about the world, self, others, sin, redemption. In some ways, we're dependent on God for life. In the every day this still seems to be the case, but would this mean we're able to be completely dependent on God?

Anita said...

In our searches for grace and love, we catch glimpses of renewal and the end of our loneliness and isolation - the beauty of a warm friendship or a well tended garden. Good music and food. So, dependence on God allows us to receive these gifts, and yet we know it is only a taste. They are not perfect, even though at times they may come close.

Total dependence on God is not possible yet, nor do I think we should seek it. It seems to me that this is a pursuit of a kind of perfectionism which only cripples those who seek it. From my understanding of what Scripture and life teach us, complete dependence comes at the point of total fulfillment, which is still future tense - when Christ returns to us and renews all things.

I suggest that another relevent dimension of reliance on God is found in the structuring of our lives. The temptation to say yes to everything, to to attempt to rescue people, to make enough money, to stay so busy that there is no space left to be - reliance on God takes on a rebelling against this and intentionally create margins of space in our lives.

Joshua said...

I'm not really sure what independence entails. Care to clarify?

There seems though multiple aspects: autonomous, individual, self-reliant, separate, etc.

Some of these seem incompatible with not only a Biblical notion, but reality itself; some of these (like individual or self-reliant) need to be critiqued and reapproriated especially in light of not only God but other relational realities; and some of these would be good. We are separate and distinct from God.

Understanding these against a creational backdrop would go along way, especially in remembering that it is not on our own strength, and indeed multiple stipulations were provided to give prevent this delusion. That said, I don't think Biblically it was ever understood in the sort of absolute fashion that leads to retarted clichés that I and others utilize.

Creationally, as especially expressed in Wisdom lit, everything including life itself is a gift from God. The proper response is gratitude and adoration. But as you've aptly pointed out: gift to what end? We as separate and distinct our to model ourselves after God ("Father"?).

I'm not touching the redemptive aspect.

Susan said...

Greg you said, God seems to want us to do things on our own - to be stewards of all that he has made. And then back to the redemption mandate to be free to serve others

I’ve been leading some studies on Ruth lately and it seems to me this is what Ruth did when she decided to go and collect the left over grain. She made the decision to do something “on her own” and serve others (Naomi) however “as it turned out” she found herself in Boaz’s fields because God was directing her paths. I think this is what being dependent on God means, we are stewards and do serve others, while at the same time we expect God to be directing our actions even if we are unaware of it.

harry coe maynard said...

Hi,

I saw an old Abbott and Costello movie where they were going to be executed by Arab Rebels. Bud said to Lou , "Well you've lived a good clean life, you can be happy" Lou said "I know but I'd like to live a little longer so I can dirty it up a little bit".

A lot of us live good lives when we really wish something else. Christ ask us to do impossible things... Live forever , Love enemies, Serve, lay down our lives for a friend, oh me don't covet, . Anyone who says they do that willingly I have my doubts, even of Humanist.

The Christian Life isn't hard, It's immpossible, but doable, and I still choose not to rely and do.

Things are Hopless... but not Serious, because of Christ.

HCM

Greg said...

Anita,
Good thoughts and I agree that our capacity to have complete dependence on God may be a future reality. But even then, I wonder? God seems to have made everything dependent on him in one sense as mentioned in previous comments, but at the same time, in another sense, to encourage human choice, work, action, responsibility, relationships, etc.

Excellent point about being and doing in your last paragraph.

Greg said...

Joshua,
Thanks. I see independence only in the context of dependence, though not complete dependence, on God. So then it is possible that God wants us to be dependently independent? And this would be the only kind of independence that God encourages? We have neither the capacity to be completely dependent on God, nor to be completely independent of him. And I suggest this may be how the creator, redeemer, human scenario works out. Yes, relation and distinction is to be considered for all of life.

Greg said...

Susan,
That's helpful. As I said to Joshua, sort of a dependent independence, if I've understood your reference to Ruth. It seems that these types of expectations may sometimes be realized and other times not, and that we are to trust God.

I would think that God also wants us to interact with creation and others for their own sake and that's one of the reason's he made the world.

Greg said...

Harry coe,
Thanks for these helpful points. Good ole Bud and Lou. And yes, without Christ, who was dependently independent, we would be lost. Creation and redeemer are dependently independent and it seems likely that this is God's doing.

John said...

Greg -
I really like your configuration of "So then it is possible that God wants us to be dependently independent? And this would be the only kind of independence that God encourages?"

That, I think, says it well and holds the tension well. We are dependent on God, and do not want to lose that, but we are also independent in that we have free will to make free choices. I know many would disagree, but I think your configuration speaks better to reality.

Greg said...

John,
Thanks. Well, I hope it fits better with both Scripture and reality. Considering the comments on ZigZag concerning this question, it does seem to me to be a helpful formulation that then gives plenty of room to be worked and lived out.

The Walk said...

Aren't we already completely dependent on Him? It's whether we choose to dance with Him that is the question.

(I think of so many scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy and Aslan dancing among the trees in Prince Caspian, together calling them to awaken...Lucy could do nothing on her own...but there with Aslan she was a powerful lioness--and free to improvise her dance and be her unique self as she danced and celebrated among the trees).

harry coe maynard said...

Hey Greg,

How bout a quick critic of this one

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation

Greg said...

The Walk,
Thanks for these thoughts. No, in actuality I don't believe we are already completely dependent on God, and I'm pretty sure that he doesn't want us to be. There may be instances when we realize that God has been with us all the time, and others when we are dancing together, but this does not translate into complete dependence.

Creationaly speaking it seems to me that God creates images to care for what he has created - dependent independence - he puts the man in the garden to work it and cultivate it - dependent independence - God creates a man and a woman so that they each will have one another - dependent independence. I think our dependence on God is never seamless, but always related and distinct.

Greg said...

Harry coe,
Thanks. I'll check it out.

harry coe maynard said...

Sorry Greg,

This is what I meant to post.

http://www.abcgallery.com/M/michelangelo/michelangelo33.html

Not following you on this.

What did Jesus mean when He said I and the Father are One. And, "Jesus did the Will of the Father Always".

He said Not my Will but Thine be done. Free Will but totally submissive.

The Holy Sprit Guiding us into All Truth. Things like that.

HCM

Greg said...

Harry coe,
Jesus also says that the Father is greater than I, so there is a close dependence independence. After all Jesus is incarnated, not the Father. Jesus, as Hebrews points out, learned obedience, and is our great high priest, which to my knowledge is not said about the Father. Things like that.

If God is the creator and sustainer of the world then in one sense we are ultimately dependent, but in another sense God has made things so that they have some independence in this configuration.

harry coe maynard said...

Greg,

Might have to hang this on the hook on the wall for a while.

Often wondered about that verse in Hebrews "Let us therefore Labor to enter into His rest"

Maybe now I know why they have Easter Egg Hunts.

Just seems the closer you get to the Cross the more finished things seem to be.



HCM

Greg said...

Harry coe,
Amen.