Neither Dependence nor Independence

I am excited about the launch of my latest book, Transformational Groups with Ed Stetzer. Ed and I are both big believers in small groups because we are both big believers in Christian community—community that is rooted in Christ.

The Christian life is meant to be interdependent and interconnected, believers in partnership and fellowship together. In our sinfulness, we tend to drift away from interdependence and toward either dependence or independence.

Some of us drift toward independence…

Independence is often a badge of honor in our culture. The man who can stand alone, who is resourceful, who does not need anyone else, is often held in high esteem. Some of us drift toward foolish attempts to walk the Christian life alone, to be a Christian in isolation. When we drift toward independence, we reject transparency, confession, openness, and receiving encouragement from the body of believers.

Some of us drift toward dependence…

Instead of drifting toward standing alone, some of us drift toward an unhealthy over-reliance on another person. When we drift toward dependence, we run to relationships because we find our ultimate worth and meaning in someone else. Our security and identity are connected deeply to another person instead of Christ.

Neither dependence nor independence is truly Christian, and both can destroy us. We are continually transformed as we fully depend on the Lord, repent of our independence, and interdependently connect with a group of believers. As the writer of Hebrews said, “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception” (Hebrews 3:13).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned us of both extremes:

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)