“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Christian Life - Part II - The Cult of Individualism

This subject has been, or will be broached by many others, I have even previously posted briefly on this, so I am not the definitive word on this, but it certainly is troubling.

Coming from a cultural background where it is so much about community (Jewish), I have been amazed at the impact that the cult of individualism has had on the church. We have churches now that divide the Body into a million little pieces every Sunday. There is a singles worship service, and a young people worship service, and an older persons worship service, and left-handed plumbers service... You get the picture.

Not only do churches have individual worship services, but they also have 'small groups' which are, likewise divided into 'types'. Most larger churches make the statement that the small group is where people really get discipled. Well, that may well be true, but when you divide the body into special groups so that they only interact with like-minded people, how growth-stimulating and discipling can that be?

As an example, we desperately need the wisdom and stability of older Christians (chronologically and spiritually), and the energy and excitement of younger people in the same environment! Many so-called worship services are nothing more than rock concerts, or at the other end, funeral dirges recalling past glories; sometimes in the same church building!! And never the twain shall meet -- because it is about YOU YOU YOU, and we would hate for you to have to sit amongst older Christians and actually have to sing a hymn -- likewise, we would hate for our older folks to have to endure being around youngsters... After all, if we had to function as a body, we might shrink below acceptable levels.

The same could be said for race or gender -- some people only attend the men's or women's functions, some people only attend the specific function that appeals directly to them. And this is the Body of Christ spoken of in 1st Corinthians 12?

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Could you imagine the Messiah having a seperate time of teaching ONLY for fishermen, and then a later time of teaching for the tax collectors, and then a final one for zealots and traitors? No, Messiah taught that the way we loved and cared for one another in the Body was a sign to unbelievers that we were His disciples -- how can that happen when our only interaction at church or in the functions of the church are centered around a group of people that we 'fit in' with? Truly I do find intolerance in the church, and that intolerance is with anyone in the body who does not fit my mold as a Christian.

We no longer come together to worship and love one another and share things and help one another -- we now come to get our weekly dose of ME religion -- replete with MY type of music, MY type of prayers, and of course, MY type of people surrounding me.

And here is the saddest piece of all -- at the forefront, and loudly promoting this is a group of people that we once called pastors. All for the sake of size and comfort we have allowed these leaders to perform amuptation on the body and reduce it to political, racial, gender, or age-based groups of interest -- not the functioning Body of Christ that Paul references in his letters.

Here is something you should do -- go read the book of Acts, see how the early church functioned -- They spent time together as a family, sharing their things, and caring for one another -- they were not perfect as Acts points out, but they were much more like a functioning Body than the modern US church!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ray,

(sarcasm alert) But, if I spent time with others like a family, they'd want to talk about things that I don't care about. They may not want to talk about what I like. I've got to make sure that I get what I need out of the church.

-Alan

Ray said...

that is our focus anymore -- what can I get out of church? As opposed to who are we gathering to worship, or what SHOULD the church look like?