Not too long ago, I made the acquaintance of Jay Lauser. This is a young man who has an obvious passion for the things of the Lord and is very diligent in using his talents and abilities for the glory of God. One of these abilities is writing. Jay has an incredible grasp for words. Therefore, I asked him to guest post for this blog. I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I am with the article Jay sent me. I think he puts our fingers on the pulse of one of the most commonly overlooked problems among Christian youth. I hope you all get as much out of this piece as I did.
“I just want to find out if I can do it on my own.”
“I want to get out of all these rules and limits and live on my own.”
“I don't want to be dependent on other people.”
“I can do it.”
“I need to live on my own.”
All of the above are statements that I hear pretty often from teenagers approaching their 'mature' years of 18-25 or so. Honestly, I hear them all too often for my taste. This is because they are representative of an attitude of independence that is fundamentally in opposition with God.
Sadly, I hear these slogans from Christians and from Rebelutionaries. This is tragic, to my mind. And I believe that it poses a serious danger to the success of the Rebelution and to the impact of the Church on our generation.
Now that I have made everyone really mad, I better go back up those rather outrageous claims. :D
There are four words which I need to define for the context of this article: Freedom, Liberty, Responsibility, and Independence. People have a strong tendency to equivocate using these words, which is assisted by the wide range of meanings that they can have. Please note that I am not limiting their definitions or meanings at all: I am only locking down how I am going to use them in this post for clarity's sake.
Freedom: A state of exemption from the power or control of another.
Liberty: Freedom to do what is right.
Responsibility: The state of being accountable for a trust reposed.
Independence: Freedom from support or authority of another. (Focus is on freedom from support in this post.)
A few quick remarks on these definitions:
I will really only be talking about independence. But I need the other words defined so that I can define it properly.
No one is free. And no one should try to be free. This would be rebellion against God.
Everyone ought to have liberty. We should seek liberty, but not independence. A lot of people point at liberty and say 'that is good' and then go try to acquire independence instead.
Everyone has a responsibility. No one should shirk their duty, and everyone has a duty to others. Refusing to work with other people is a violation of your responsibility. A lot of people say they are trying to be responsible, but are really trying to be independent. Do not get responsibility and independence mixed up.
No one but God is truly independent. That is actually written into the definition in Webster's 1828:
“1. Not dependent; not subject to the control of others; not subordinate. God is the only being who is perfectly independent.”
This makes sense. We cannot escape the necessity of things outside of ourselves. That is an inherent part of our created, finite nature.
My first point against an independent mindset, therefore, is immediately self-evident. To seek to be more independent than we already are is an attempt to be more self-sufficient than God made us. We are, in effect, striving after the supremacy of God. God made us inherently reliant on others. That is His plan. And to try to exclude those support systems from our lives is extremely prideful, not to say insane. We should rather seek for more support, while still maintaining our responsibilities.
The Rebelution has nobly resurrected a mindset in our youth. It is a good mindset, and in fact, it is the mindset that has built empires, preserved liberty, and in many other ways glorified God throughout the ages. But like all good things, Satan loves to twist it with his sophistry and render it damaging to the kingdom of God.
And so now there has been a resurrection of another mindset that feeds off of some of the concepts in the Rebelution, but which is contrary to it. This mindset rejects two of the three pillars of the Rebelution, and focuses exclusively on the third (which, obviously, cannot stand alone). They refuse to show Character by yielding to their pride, they block all Collaboration from mentors and peers alike, and yet they stubbornly claim Competence to be their savior.
Scripture is very clear that God wants each person to rely on others, to be interconnected and interdependent in His pattern for the network of society. I will quote a few Scriptures here to demonstrate this, but do not expect an exhaustive list, as that would be... exhausting. ;)
Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Ephesians 4:15-16 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:23-24 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.
That last one needs a bit of explanation, I admit. :)
First notice Ephesians 4:15-16, which talks about the body of Christ, with Christ as the head, and the body being joined together, each part requiring the others (for more on that, study Romans 12). Then look back at Ephesians 5:23-24. Paul deliberately makes a strong parallel between the family and the church, asserting that they are structured the same.
The conclusion is that the family, like the church, is designed to work in harmony with itself, each member supporting and relying on the others, each part adding to the whole. Therefore, trying to go off and live on your own as a teenager, merely to assert or test or prove your independence, is folly of the highest degree. In general (from what I have learned, and the Bible bears with me), it is best for you to be under your father, and thus a part of your family, until you are married. This is a far cry from the modern practice of teenagers leaving the home in all but name in high school, before they every even get to college.
For us to receive God's blessings, we need to allow Him to work through others in our lives to bless us. If we try to rely on none but ourselves, we are actually blocking out God.
And thus is my assertion. It is radical and extreme, I know. But if you read my blog, you know that doesn't bother me at all. ;)
So now it is your turn to make yourselves heard in the comments!
Have you seen this mindset in your life? Have you seen it in others? How has it affected you? And how do you think you could change your life to avoid it?
Jay Lauser, aka Sir Emeth Mimetes, is a homeschooled Rebelutionary writer passionate for God. He divides his time between his many projects and his freelancing web design and development business. He blogs at http://siremethmimetes.wordpress.com.