Declarations of independence - healthy and not so much...

Huw Williams | 20:30, Friday 20 June 2014 | Turin, Italy

"Kitty do it!!" - that's the most common refrain we hear about out apartment these days. It's quite an adjustment for all of us, mundane tasks that were once carried out by Dad or Mum now simply have to be done by Kitty, and will be met with great disapproval if they are not.

this claim to independence is an important stage in a child's development

I understand that this claim to independence is an important stage in a child's development, no parent in their right mind wants their child to remain in the same state of dependence as they are in at two years, at four, six, eight and beyond. Kitty is growing up. And yet at the same time, it is no exaggeration to say that in these frequent declarations of independence we can see the beginnings of that which is in us all - an aversion to authority, a reluctance to submit to it, and a determination to self-government.

And this is something we can trace all the way back to Genesis 3. When satan tempts the man and woman with a vision of independence from God, his accusation is as clear as it is preposterous - the relationship they have hitherto enjoyed with God has not been based on love, it has been based upon fear and even insecurity on the part of God. Satan's 'promise' is of a world where man and woman can live independently of God, where they can even be gods themselves. It is of course, a lie, The Lie in fact, but the vision of self-love and self-trust he presents is sufficiently attractive to them to break relationship with God and what happens next is... well, history.

I have been preparing a sermon on Luke 18:9-17 this week, where Jesus has some fascinating things to say about self trust and by association, self-love. Luke is cear in his identification of the target audience for the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector:-

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt..."

The Pharisee's self-trust (and self-love) is obvious from his prayer - a heart focused on the achievements of self produces a hymn of praise to the object of that focus. As the old adage goes, the self-made man worships his creator. But the tax collector couldn't be more different, while his physical eyes are fixed on the ground, the eyes of his heart are firmly focused on the God of mercy.

To truly come to God is to come to Him in humility, as little children ...

And the following verses bring us back to a vision of childhood. To truly come to God is to come to Him in humility, as little children, aware of our helplessness, our utter dependence on Him and in complete trust and confidence in the One who cares for us. In a world which esteems self-trust - perhaps above everything else - we shouldn't be surprised that this is the very air we breathe every day as we engage with those around us, and neither should we blind to its ugliness.

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