Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 96; 147:1-11, Nahum 1:1-14, Revelation 12:1-6, Luke 11:37-52
We admire independence. We sing the praises of the self-sufficient, the self-made, and the independently wealthy. And yet … it is largely a myth. While relying on someone else is often portrayed as a weakness, the human condition is primarily one of interdependence. We rely on each other in ways large and small.
American Christians tend to speak of salvation in fairly independent terms – my personal relationship with Christ; the day I was saved; etc. Yet Jesus and the prophets spoke of salvation in terms of entire nations. Jesus said several times he came for the nation of Israel. He condemned the Pharisees and lawyers not just for their own misdeeds, but for hindering others from entering the kingdom. When the prophet Nahum spoke about God’s wrath falling on the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, he spoke to them as a people; the righteous would also pay for the deeds of the unrighteous. Does this seem unfair? Unjust?
Whether we recognize it or not, others depend on us for salvation. Our witness is only as credible as our character. Many people have turned (or been driven) from the faith because of the misbehavior and hypocrisy they experience in Christian community. Must we be perfect? Of course not. We should, however, remain aware that once we call ourselves Christians, our example teaches people what to expect from Christ.
Perhaps we think people are responsible for their own salvation, and perhaps ultimately they are, but such thinking diminishes the faithful parents, teachers, mentors, and friends who introduced us to our beliefs and helped us through hard times. People who are swayed by bad examples are no weaker or less deserving than we who had the benefit of good ones. Of people who cause others to lose faith, Jesus says: “It would be best for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.”
A community rises or falls together because its tangle of cause and effect can’t be teased apart. Whether our interdependence is a blessing or curse is entirely dependent on us.
Comfort: You don’t have to go it alone.
Challenge: As you go about your daily business, think about all the things other people do to make it possible for you to do the things you do.
Prayer: Holy and loving God, may I be a worthy witness for you. Amen.
Discussion: When have you been forced to depend on someone? How did it make you feel?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group or follow @comf_and_chall on Twitter. You’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!