Without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The Christian life should grow not in our independence from God, but in our dependence on Him. Self-sufficiency for the Christian means to be able to stand alone knowing Christ will hold you up. We may be independent from people, but we are never independent from God.

We do not learn our need of God in theoretical situations, but in dealing with the realities of this life each day. This means that living the best Christian life is not achieved by withdrawing from life and contemplating all alone. It is experienced in the day-to-day struggles of life, in the ups and downs of our Christian life. Paul E. Miller wrote: “Remember the point of Christianity isn’t to learn a lot of truths so you don’t need God anymore. We don’t learn God in the abstract.”

There is a time and a place for withdrawing to study and to contemplate and, especially, to pray and commune with God. But if this is all we do, then we will eventually find the experience shallow. Grace is found in our dealing with our own sinfulness. Grace shared with others is learned in our dealing with their failures. Patience is learned in uphill struggles, and the deepest awareness of the love of God seems to come in times of loneliness and isolation from others – even in the midst of rejection.

That Christ told us “you can do nothing without Me” means that He foresaw that we would surely try to do things without Him, that we would attempt to render Him a mere historic relic, rather than the living and empowering God He is today. It is when we stumble that we eel the need for His personal grace and restoring power.

The strongest Christians are not the most independent, but those who have learned their Christ-dependency and increasingly learn to lean on Him. As He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

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