Affectionately Dependent is a way of understanding biblical Christianity that began bouncing around my brain in January of 2018 after a Sunday school class at my local church (Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville, OH). As a junior at Cedarville University I began writing about it on free afternoons and evenings, and really, any time I could. A few paragraphs that started in my journal on a cafeteria table grew, over the semester, into Affectionate Dependence: A Removing of the Veil, and into a way of understanding the Christian walk laid out in scripture. Essentially, however, Affectionately Dependent is a testimony to the supernatural change that Jesus has wrought in my life since January of 2017––a month of repentance and new joy.
Perhaps, then, Affectionately Dependent is best prefaced by a few lines I wrote in my journal, in reflection to the supernatural changes that had become manifest, months prior to January of 2018, and to it being named. They are as follows:
It is my earnest desire to look back on these past six months of growth, of the reality smashing beauty and sweetness I have learned to adore in Christ, and the creation of new spiritual appetites, of God being my all satisfying treasure, my favorite, and not say such things as “that was a great time of growth in my life, I need to get back to that”, but rather ponder this time almost as a moment now long past, one where, compared to now, I saw only dimly. I pray that I will see this time, perhaps sixty years removed, as, “Ah, sophomore spring and
junior fall, the moment I fell in love with Christ. Yet, I must say, it was a funny sort of fall, because, I mean, normally, if one were to fall, he would hit the bottom. Except, I have been falling for years and I don’t believe myself to be any closer or further along to the bottom than when I first stood on the edge, amazed, stunned, loved, redeemed, if indeed there is a bottom at all to such love––I think not”.
The summary statement I’ve often employed when talking about Affectionately Dependent is that ‘we absolutely have to have God––for breath, the new birth, and for the Christian life––but we absolutely want him’. That comes mainly Genesis 1 when God creates everything from nothing, by Ephesians 2, “We were dead in our trespasses and sins… but God has made us alive together with Christ” and John 15:5, “[regarding bearing fruit] Apart from [Jesus] you can do nothing”. Furthermore, the Psalms, among other places, have a great deal to say about being satisfied in, loving, and praising God. Consider Psalm 4:5. It says, “[God has] put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound”. Likewise, Psalm 16:11 speaks of the infinite satisfaction and pleasure that lies in God and God alone––”In your presence there is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Paul puts in plainly in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord”.
Similarly, I often write with the overarching theme of ‘For [God’s] glory, for our joy, for they are one’. That’s swiveled from a stare at the definition of Affectionately Dependent to the purpose or result of living and thinking and working and literally doing everything under the explained framework.
Because we’ve been supernaturally changed to see our dependence upon God for breath, salvation, and the Christian life, seeing Jesus as our greatest treasure, we glorify God and have fullness of joy. But there’s one more thing I hope to connect for you. Indeed, I hope to tie it together because I think the Bible does. The best place I know to go to show you is Philippians 1:21-23. I am undoubtedly indebted to Pastor John Piper for this portion, if not much more––God has used his ministry in tremendous ways in my life. Piper’s hallmark phrase, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, especially in times of suffering’ is mined out those verses in Philippians chapter 1.
Paul writes, “It is my eager expectation and hope that Christ will be honored in my body whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain… for my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”
Piper summarizes those verses in saying, “Christ is glorified in you when he is more precious to you than all that life can give or death can take”. I think the psalmist in Psalm 73 gives a helpful commentary on Paul’s teaching here. Verse 11 says, “Whom do I have in heaven but you and there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”. I’d wager that’s a helpful way to think about ‘to live is Christ’.
You see, glorifying God––living ‘for his glory’–– is accomplished by prizing and treasuring and loving Jesus more than absolutely anything. We absolutely have to have Jesus, but we absolutely want him because he’s the most satisfying and glorious thing in the universe. Even the choicest pleasures of this world pale in comparison. Paul counted them as refuse next to the worth of knowing Christ. Being Affectionately Dependent, being a Christian, then, is truly ‘For his glory, for our joy, for they are one.