Friday, July 22, 2011

One for All and All for Me?

The North American church gives Satan too much credit. Every time something goes wrong in our society, churches and families we think Satan has had his dirty hands in it all. The truth is Satan started something a while ago, and we have done the rest. Now he can sit back and watch us implode on ourselves and he hasn’t even had to do anything. It’s quite a genius plan - divide and conquer.  Even Jesus said even a house divided against itself will not stand. Genius, did I say that already?

How, you might ask, is Satan dividing us? Denominations and doctrinal issues notwithstanding, individualism is killing us. We are designed for corporate relationship. Yes, I know, becoming a Christian is an individual decision that every man, woman and child must make, blah, blah, blah. But once the decision is made, we are born into a family, a body, a nation – all of which must bypass the individual for the effect of the whole. That’s kingdom living.

In our western culture, we have difficulty to grasp community identity as God intended.  We have perfected narcissism and individualism – as if maintaining individual rights and privileges is more important than the whole.

The effect of [true kingdom] community is exponentially greater than what one person can accomplish (Deuteronomy 32:30). Many other cultures already understand this. I live in an area with a high density population of Indians (from India). It is common for multi-generations to live together and share responsibility for the mortgage, many even own a business together and they all work together. As a result, their homes are large and generally have expendable income.  Compared to our western mindset where we move away from our families, work hard to buy a modest starter home and live only 2-3 months away from financial straits, it’s not hard to see which system has more practical benefits.

We say we value community, but what we are really saying is that we want community when it doesn’t stifle our own individualism, which is exactly the opposite of what God intended. We are a covenantal people, not a covenantal person. The definition I use for covenant is the willingness to be defined by another. We are a corporate people – that is part of our identity.

·         Abraham was blessed so that all nations could be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3)
·         We are given gifts for the benefit of everyone (1 Corinthians 12:7)
·         The Lord decrees that we are his people  (Leviticus 26:12)
·         We are told to keep meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25)

If it wasn’t for community, then what did Paul mean when he said to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)? When I learned through the Perspectives was that my life was expendable for the greater good of the Kingdom and it has made me live life with abandon and delight and freedom, much more so than trying to protect what is mine. Community brings freedom and security – I am not afraid that you’ll steal from me when you are looking out for my best interest.

However, if you are looking out for just yourself, then perhaps you will want what I have so now I need to protect myself from you. You become the enemy to my security. Genius plan, right? Divide and conquer. Individualism is the mindset and we do the rest of the dirty work, trying to protect our own.

Community is our identity, not individualism.

How do you feel about individualism vs. community?

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