Thinking about neediness
All of us crave our independence. Independence from one another, independence from a community or society. We do whatever we can to establish a bubble of safety, ensure that we don’t step into another’s bubble and they don’t step into ours. We carefully edit our public personas, putting a lot of effort into what it is people see. On and off our devices we construct a ‘social media’ lifestyle. Walls, masks, filters – all descriptions of the tactics we employ to hide what is really happening for us. Some of us are so good at creating a persona that we don’t know what parts are real and what is the story that we have fabricated, it is as if the mask has become melded with our skin.
There is something to be said about Western, or even American culture and it’s influence in building such an independent culture. Suburban living can leave us only seeing our neighbours through our windscreens, pop-songs scream of how wonderful it is to be on our own not needing anyone and we all love a good story about the self-made man/woman. However, our independence lies much deeper than that. Even as children we like to assert our independence in doing tasks, wanting to do it all by ourselves, not wanting an adult to intervene in anyway. It is in all of us from a young age to think there is dignity in being independent. There may be a unique form of individualisation in our society but it seems to stem from something deeper than our conditioning.
As Christians, we can fall into the thinking that our neediness comes from the fall into sin. That it is a part of living as a broken person in a broken world. The truth is, it is our discomfort and shame around neediness that comes from the fall. God created us to need Him and to need one another. Our interdependence is a part of what it means to bear the image of the triune God. Just like the Godhead of the Trinity is in deep communion with one-another, we were created to live in deep communion with God and with one another. Our sinful pride is what drives us to believe that our vulnerability is weakness.
We need God.
God has created us to need him. To be fully dependent on him. In the book Instruments in the Redeemers Hand, Paul Tripp takes us back to Genesis 1, showing how even in a perfect state, man was dependent on God to make sense of the world. Adam and Eve were perfect yet they were created to be dependent on God. Tripp then further discusses how humanity has been created to be:
- Revelation receivers
Each of these roles are dependent on God. To be who we were created to be cannot happen in isolation. Humanity is utterly dependent on things that are outside of themselves, namely God, to live in the way that he has created them to. This need for God preceded the fall. The entrance of sin further complicated this as we searched for meaning outside of God and worshipped a different voice.
We need God. There are so many voices around us and inside of us that are trying to convince us otherwise. Trying to convince us that we can be independent, that we can obey things that are contrary to what God has revealed to us. Instead of turning to those voices or trying to do it all by ourselves, God calls us to him. He invites us into a deep relationship with him and it is as we learn to truly depend of him that we are restored to true humanity.
We need people.
God has also created us to need people. Also in the first chapter of Genesis he states that it is not good for man to be alone. Humanity is created to be a part of community. As we observe human behaviour, we can see that even in the push for independence there remains a desire to belong. As we bear the image of God, we are created for strong inter-dependent relationships. God communes with himself as the triune God and in bearing his image, we commune with God and each other.
The discussion on our need for people around us is show all throughout the scripture.
- 1 Corinthians 12 also uses the image of the body to illustrate the unity and diversity of God’s church and how each member is dependent on the others.
- Ephesians 4 discusses the need for the body of Christ so that we can all build each other up and grow in godliness. Each with our own specific gifts.
- Romans 12 discusses how our lives as Christians are marked by the genuine love we have for those around us, especially those who are within the communion of saints.
- Paul finishes many of his letters with the encouragement to support each other or to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2; 1 Thess 5:14).
- Jesus words about the logs in our own eye and the specks in others in Matthew 7 are an illustration of how much we need people in our lives to point out our sins and weaknesses.
We help and are helped
As the communion of saints grows and each member continues to serve with the gifts that God has given them, we help one-another at the same time as being helped by one-another. This is what we say when we profess I believe in the communion of saints each time we recite or listen to the Apostles Creed. God has placed us in community because we need the people around us. He uses those relationships to restore and sanctify us so that we may continue to draw close in relationship with him and relationship with those around us.
Let us pray that we may continue to humbly grow in love for each other and love for God.