In her article on singleness (pp. 6–9), Stephanie Fast raises the issue of reciprocity. One of the challenges of being single, she says, can be asking others for help with practical matters, knowing the favour isn’t able to be returned. This requires a certain degree of vulnerability, making it easier at times to hire needed help rather than ask.
While prizing authenticity, our society at the same time urges the pursuit of independence; these two seem incompatible. When true authenticity requires revealing our brokenness and need to each other, we cannot at the same time be lone rangers, completely in control of our own mess. The church, in order to be truly counter-cultural, needs to be a safe space for and a model of interdependence.
It seems unlikely we’re making a move back to the Acts 2:44 sometimes-ideal of “everything in common.” However, it’s important to look for ways to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). It is, in fact, so important that Paul goes on to say, “in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 speaks of the blessings of companionship: “Two are better than one” (v. 9) and “a cord of three strands is not easily broken” (v. 12). While at times used in the context of wedding ceremonies (the addition of the third cord is God, in a godly marriage), the blessings described by The Teacher in this passage wouldn’t have been unique to the marriage relationship. In fact, in Michael A. Easton’s commentary on Ecclesiastes, he says the move from two to three may “be a hint…that companionship may operate within larger numbers” (Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 95). “In some realms,” Easton says, “progress may be measured by increasing independence; in this realm spiritual stature is measured by growing interdependence.”
Some people, rather than setting New Year’s resolutions (which often fail), set goals or intentions guided by one word (such as “Presence,” “Rest” or “Gratitude”). I haven’t yet adopted this practice, but I find it appealing. I’m wondering now how my life might look in a year’s time if I were to choose the word “interdependent” to guide the coming year. And then, what if each EMCer did the same? What would the EMC look like a year from now?
– Rebecca Roman