Question: How should the church, which is ‘a community of believers’ function in our society which is highly individualistic?
I am not going to answer this question for you, but I will provide some explanation of what I am talking about.
Critically Thinking: The nature of individualistic philosophy encourages,
1. Narcissism (Self-love; over-estimation one’s importance) 2. Self Indulgence (Inability to resist the gratification of desires) 3. Instant Gratification (To ‘have’ immediate, without delay, now) 4. Self-Promotion (Overtly drawing attention to oneself) 5. Greed (Excessive desire to acquire or possess more)
The championing of personal autonomy has become an ideology that is highly suspicious of ‘community ideals’. This is the essence of postmodernity. You often hear things like, ‘well that may be true for you, but what about the rest of us?’
This mentality tends to focus on sentiment (feelings and emotions). With this mindset, ‘personal pleasure level’ becomes the determining factor, the prime good, in navigating through life (What will be convenient to me?).
For Christians, we are confessional. This means we are a community of individuals that gather around, confess, and hold to certain truths about God, the Bible, and how we relate to one another.
Consider the ‘makeup of a community’. When you look at the descriptive words used in the definitions of community, you find something quite contrary to the secular forces of individualism.
Community carries connotations of being;
1. Unified: (In ideas, beliefs, interests) 2. Interacting: Communicating (Holding each other accountable) 3. Participating: (Involvement in each others lives) 4. Common Location: (The local church)
When you compare these two lists, it becomes quite obvious that being a Christian carries an expectation that you will be an integral part of a community of believers. We often ask the question ‘why is the church not as powerful of a force in culture’. Well, I think a key to that answer is found here in looking at these two lists. Think about it!
To answer the initial question, you need to think about your self as an individual and how you function in the community of beleivers, the body of Christ.