INDEPENDENCE is something most people cherish. Not that we feel it's wrong to help each other, but our self-esteem can sink if we feel overly reliant on others. There's an independ-ence, though, that we might not find if we're too convinced of our self-sufficiency. It's the unparalleled spiritual freedom of depending fully on God.
It is, in fact, our God-derived ability that enables individuals to be self-reliant. God creates the real, spiritual man in His own likeness, and He sustains His offspring. God's tender love, reflected by His children, also moves us to support one another's independence at times when we can't manage all on our own. This mutual caring at the heart of Christian living expresses God's own cherishing of His creation. Receivers as well as the givers of such care can recognize its origin as divine. Then, instead of personal dependence they can find the divine support that is freeing.
Christ Jesus never claimed to be self-sufficient or to have a ``mind of his own.'' Yet no one was freer. He demonstrated the true independence that comes from utter reliance on God. He continually subordinated a personal outlook to the Christ, his spiritual sonship with God--and we see the results recorded in the Bible as healing that freed multitudes!
Jesus explained that help given or received on the basis of our reliance on God brings out more of the real man's sonship with God. Those ministering to the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned, are actually serving him, he pointed out, saying, ``Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me'' (Matthew 25:40). When assistance given or received affirms Christ, man's true, spiritual selfhood, all involved move toward greater reliance on God. This is truly freeing.
I discovered what this means in practical terms when I was engaged in worthwhile but poorly paid activities. It was necessary for more of my needs to be met by someone else than I would have chosen. Although this seemed genuinely appropriate, and was not a burden to the other person, I would have preferred to be totally self-sufficient.
Through prayer, however, I came to see that I was not a mortal who could be demeaned by the support another gave. Nor was I proudly upheld by my own personal ability. I was the completely spiritual child of God, whose provision for His offspring is constant. I saw that the one helping me was divinely impelled to support the Christly qualities of my true, spiritual nature. And I could return gratitude and love for this Christly selflessness. Both of us were blessed. And it later became evident that the projects I was able to complete during this period were of substantial value.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains in her book Retrospection and Introspection, ``Our reliance upon material things must be transferred to a perception of and dependence on spiritual things'' (p. 28). Sometimes we learn reliance on spiritual things by demonstrating more God-derived strength and initiative than we had thought possible. But we may also learn spiritual reliance when we are helped by someone else. In this way we find God's grace, from which that aid flows, to be always sufficient.
In the Bible, Peter assures us, ``Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you'' (I Peter 5:6, 7). Depending on God's care gives us lasting independence.