“DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE” By Pastor YAU
Text: John 15:1-8 January 9, 2011
1) This is what we do: Parents celebrate when their children learn to do something on their own: using the bathroom, get dressed, brush their teeth, tie shoelaces, ride a bike to school, etc. When we grow older, we love to make our own decisions, choose our college and courses to take, find our favorite job, choose our life mates, do our best not to rely on outside help. All the while we are building an attitude most desirable to God and descriptive to our true state. We want to be independent from others.
2) This is what Jesus said: In describing the potential and purpose of being followers of Christ, Jesus sent us a strong and clear message: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)The truth is that we live in a world of dependency and at the center of which is God in whom all things hold together. The Norwegian theologian Ole Hallesby described this human condition in one word “helplessness” as the best summary of the heart attitude that God accepts as we pray. He said, “Only he who is helpless can truly pray.” I will add: “God will only answer prayers of the helpless.” If you think you can handle your problem, you don’t need to pray and you don’t need help from God.
WE LOVE TO BE INDEPENDENT:
1) It is in our human nature: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be open, and you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5) If you look closer, the real reason of wanting to eat that forbidden fruit is not just the color is nice, the shape looks tempting, but is the result of eating it: to be like God, to be independent of God and everyone else. Regardless of how you interpret independence or if it is all good or bad, that desire is in our nature forever. We see this in small children, teenagers and adults. We see this in business and in politics. We were born with that nature, but how to use that nature is another matter.
2) It is our self-assertion: “Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord.” (Proverbs 3:7)Assertion means affirmation. Self-assertion means affirmation of the self without any need of outside evidence. When we are so assertive of our own ability, goals of life, ways of doing things, purpose and results, there is no room for anyone else in our decision and choices, not even God. We see it as a natural thing to handle our life independent of all other. When you believe in yourself so much, you will do things on your own without the need of anyone else. Solomon calls it “wise in our own eyes.”
3) It is in our deadly pride: “After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.” (2 Chron. 26:16) When King Uzziah was powerful and successful, his pride led him to disregard God and His temple laws. He also disregarded godly advice of his trusted priest. At the peak of his power, Uzziah mistakenly did something he should not do because he wanted to be independent of God, His law and the high priest. Many people want to do thing their own way without others involved so they don’t have to listen or cooperate with others.
4) It is for our selfish interest: “Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also to the interest of others.” (Phil. 2:4) In encouraging Christians to work with each other to reflect the model of Christ’ sacrificial love, Paul asked that we should not live or work independently for our own selfish interest but also on the interests of others. This is the most common reason why people want to be independent---to promote and protect their own selfish interest. God desires that we live and work in ways to promote and protect a common interest, the interest of God’s Kingdom for all God’s people.
GOD PREFERS US AS DEPENDENT:
1) God is our creator/shepherd: “Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3) Being a shepherd boy in his childhood life, King David certainly understand the dependence sheep has on their shepherd. All their needs and safety are provided by their shepherd and on his mercy. Shepherds don’t make sheep, but God made us. He is our creator who had all our needs and interest in mind when He planned, designed and created us. It is the natural desire of the creator and the shepherd to have us depend on him. Our God is not a far away deity. He is closely related to our everyday life.
2) God wants to be our God: “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:12) There are over 40 listings in the Bible that God expressed his desire to be God of his people from Exodus to 1 Peter. After giving all the laws and statue to the people of Israel before they crossed into the Promised Land, God set the basic foundation of His power to give them laws and that foundation is God wants to be our God and He wants us to be his people. As our God, He has the power to tell us what to do and not to do, and he also has the responsibility to provide, protect us as his people. God wants us to depend on Him as our God and we, His people.
3) God will give us the best: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7, 11)Jesus was talking about the ability and generosity of God in giving best gifts to all who come and ask Him. God never keeps anything good from us.
4) God will never turn us away: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never turn away.” (John 6:37)Jesus was talking about the inclusiveness of God in giving our needs regardless of our condition, be it religious, moral, social or anything else. As long as we will come, God will never turn anyone away without meeting our needs.
THE WISDOM OF DEPENDENCY: (John 15:1-8)
1) When God is the master gardener: “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” (15:1) When you look for a place to service your car, you will choose a place with a master mechanic. If you are looking for a place to have a good dinner, you will choose a restaurant with a master chef. When you look for someone to trust you life and future, you will choose God. Jesus says he is the true vine and God is the master gardener. There is none other than God who created you, knows you and loves you more than God. Stop looking for anyone or anything else to depend on other than God. Thousands of years ago, King Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5)
2) When we are connected with God: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing” (15:5) This is the key verse of this passage: apart from connecting with God we can do nothing. Connecting with God or remaining in Him means depending on God for our usefulness. God is and has all the resource for a fruitful life. It is wise to depend on him so our life will be fruitful, useful and full of blessing to others.
3) When God will answer our prayers: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” (15:7)When we remain in God, we will follow his way to live. When His words remain in us, we will pursue life according to His mindset. Then our thought and desires will reflect His will and desire so God will give us all that we ask to fulfill His will. The condition God set for answering our prayers is we remain in Him and allow His words to remain in us.
4) When our life brings God glory: “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (15:8)Jesus set a few guidelines to prove that we are truly his disciples and one of them is we bear much fruit for the glory of God. The key words here are “bear much fruit’ and “for the glory of the Father.” Placing our dependence on God is sure way to bear much fruit, and the purpose of bearing much fruit is to glorify God the Father.
1) Dependency is human: Being human is being dependent. We depend on the environment, others, and above all, our God for our very survival. So, to declare our dependency, especially to God, is nothing to be ashamed of. To feel and think of all independent is either ignorant or arrogant. To be dependent is not a sign of weakness but of maturity. So, next time when you need help, from God or people, just ask.
2) Dependent and dependable: When we are dependent on others, we better know who is dependable so we may go and ask for help. Asking help from people who are not dependable is asking for trouble. The most dependable source of help is the Almighty God. In Him, everything is possible.
3) Dependent on your soul: You may think you are capable of many things for your life, and you may be right. But you are absolutely incapable of anything to save your soul and to forgive your sins. There is only one who can forgive your sins and save your soul and it is Jesus Christ. If you care about your soul, you need to ask Jesus to save you. Do it now and have the assurance of eternal life with God and a new life here on earth.