Does God want to control or oppress you? Is He, as the serpent tried to convince Eve long ago, holding out on you?
In one sense, as a human being you are an individual, a unique part of creation, standing all on your own with no wires attached, no one else pulling the strings.
On the other hand, you are, by God’s design, utterly dependent. If you think about it, it can be quite disquieting.
For example, you’re dependent on the proper working of your organs. Yes, you can do a lot to keep them healthy, but you didn’t start your organs up as a baby, and you don’t have to tell them to work now. You’re dependent on something other than yourself to keep them humming even as you go about your day.
Take food as a second example. Sure, you could grow your own food. You could nurture the soil, plant the seeds, tend the growing plants, and harvest them when they’re ready. But how would you make them grow? In all reality, you can’t. The fact that plants grow, the fact that they have life at all, is outside our control.
The examples of our dependency go on. We need and ultimately cannot provide for ourselves…
Without these and any number of other very basic things, we’d come to an end. What this means for us is plain, if we’ll dare to acknowledge it:
God created us this way. As much freedom as we have, as autonomous as we are, at the end of the day, He made us to be utterly dependent creatures.
Have you ever considered why?
Some might imagine the reason is that God is like a king who keeps control over all the land in order to control his people, but I don’t think that fits with humanity’s experience of God through the ages. When things go really bad among humans, God doesn’t usually pull the plug on the sun and plunge us into darkness to get us back in line. But even more, a king who feels the need to control his subjects has as a motivation his own lack of control. Could we really say the same about the Creator of everything?
I think the reason God created us dependent has more to do with His love for us. Dependent creatures are by definition relational creatures. I think God created us to be dependent upon Him to align with His heart for us. In other words, our dependency corresponds with His generosity. We are designed to fit with Him.
We were created in the beginning to be “powered,” if you will, by God. Just as all of creation would cease apart from Him, so would we. Just as all of creation thrives upon His life, so do we. And this dynamic isn’t so God can endlessly oppress us but so He can eternally express His generous love toward us.
And so Paul told the Athenians, “[God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25).
Understanding our relationship with God this way helps us move from viewing God as taskmaster with a bunch of rules, trying to keep us under His thumb, to approaching God as an intimate God who designed us because He wanted to share Himself generously with us.
How can you approach Him this way today?