Autonomous Christianity?

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People


“The more separation and discontinuity there is between the real details of my personal life and my public confession and image, the more I will tend to fear being known. I will fear how people would think of me and respond to me if they really knew what was going on in my life… My responses to the concerns and inquiries of others become structured by fear rather than faith. So I do not make the regular, healthy confessions of struggle to my ministry co-partners, I do not ask candidly and humbly for prayer in places where I clearly need it, and I am very careful with how I answer personal questions when they come my way… I am trying to do what none of us is able to do—spiritually make it on my own. Autonomous Christianity never works, because our spiritual life was designed by God to be a community project.” Paul David Tripp in Dangerous Calling, page 38, italics mine.


The U.S. culture is one of autonomy. We have self-check-out aisles, “Do it Yourself” books and magazines, ATM machines, and computerized devices that help remind us to do things. We live in a culture of individualism, but Christianity is not something that we can live out by ourselves. From the beginning of creation, God stated, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). God did not create us to be autonomous beings. If there were the case, would the Lord have created Eve? Adam and Eve not only had a relationship with God, but they were to have a relationship with each other. Genesis 2:18 highlights the sacredness of the marital relationship, but it extends further. The Lord created Adam and Eve to live in community.


Jesus came to Earth as a single adult. If there were anyone that could have lived an independent life, it was Jesus! He was 100% man and 100% God, and God was His Father! Living independently is not what we see Jesus doing. He lived within the context of relationships. On the eve of His death, He prayed that believers would be one (John 17:11, 21-24)—not one as individuals, but one unified body. He knew that we would need each other.


Perhaps one of the biggest temptations in ministry is not letting others into how we are really doing. When people ask, “How are you?” we are quick to give a response that we think that they want to hear. Though there is wisdom to the extent in which we share with others, we probably lean toward the more “sugar-coated” version. I know I do. Vulnerability is hard. We have no control over what someone is going to do with that information. We fear others’ reactions. Ministry is not just about Jesus and me—it must also be about others. I need others to point me to truth. I need others to listen to me and encourage me. I need others to counsel and admonish me. Sure, I must nurture my walk with the Lord, but I must also recognize the importance of fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. What about you? Are you living in community, or are you living as an autonomous Christian?

535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral MinistryDangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles

One Comment

  1. Kathy, thank you for this insightful piece. As a father I struggle helping to raise the confidence of my children, so they get involved in sports of other afterschool activities. Ironically before reading this article, I had penned a little ditty to help my daughter Anna Lynn with her shortcomings. We all have them right. So, I’ll share, and we can reflect together. All the best,

    Jac Winters

    Be Like the Bee

    “If we exclude ourselves from everything because we can’t do one thing, we’ll never do anything.”
    Jac Winters

    When we think of autonomy and how it applies to everything we do in life, we will not view self-governance as a selfish trait. In fact, as it is associated with all we do, sports, math or our workplace, we will realize that it is the most self-effacing attribute we can possess. For us to raise the confidence of the entire team. Our personal confidence level needs to be at its peak.

    The overarching goal is not to become the best at everything on the court or field, rather it is to become excellent at one very important aspect of that game. Combine this with the skills of the others and at the very least win or lose you will experience wins together and the losses will just be an insignificant stumble to greater things. Personal happiness and satisfaction come from knowing as an individual you are contributing to a greater accomplishment.

    I liken our existence to the bee. If we watch these magnificent laborers and their natural God given ability’s, we notice that without fail they prove their mettle every day. They work tirelessly in their efforts to pollinate, they do it quietly and continually hone their skill then they rest, be it on a post on your deck basking in the sun or falling asleep right on the very flower they have been harvesting. Then they go again. As people we need to concentrate on our personal happiness before we can make others happy. If we sit idle by and revel in the expectations of others, admire someone else’s skill or craft we will without fail lose ourselves and achieve nothing.

    Let’s begin today by not worrying about what others think of us and what we can do for them. Rather find out what makes us personally happy and what we can be excellent at individually so our team and classmates will benefit from what we truly have to offer each other.
    Our instinct often tells us to react, then run rather than to reflect, thinking is good but do not overthink if we do this too much, we will end up convincing ourselves that we have nothing to offer. Go be excellent at one thing and if every person does this you will carry each other across the finish line. Knowing full well that everyone was great at something.
    Be like the bee, he is content and confident in what he or she can achieve, and they never stop to ask what the other bee is thinking!
    God speed to all of you

    The Janitor


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