Individualism and the Church

31 Oct

Yesterday in Sunday School, we were talking about the book of Malachi, and the motives that we as Christians have in doing the things we do.  We talked about the motives of the Israelites in sacrificing the blemished goats to God, and we came to the conclusion that they had just grown so used to God and His presence that Him being there no longer seemed special enough to warrant any effect on how they operated.  The priests didn’t help either, not really caring what the people did when it came down to God’s law.  That was all good and well, but then we turned and looked at ourselves.

Why is it that we are so opaque when we go to church?  Why is it that we feel like we have to hind what is going on?  I think it is because of individualism.  The idea that we are alone and only “one person” in this world is a mirror of what the “American Dream” is supposed to reflect:  a single individual pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and making their way in the world, alone, without help from anyone.  So this idea has pervaded the church in America  and has wrought havoc on the community that Christians are supposed to be apart of.  If we did not have the idea that we were single individuals who could hide or blend in at a church, well, we could be a real community, one that really rested upon God and each other for help.  Our pride in ourselves has blinded us to the fact that we need other Christians around us to help build us up and make sure that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  This community pressure is not intended to make us fearful legalists but graceful sinners who realize that the other people attempting to help them are also sinners.  When this happens, we are able to keep doctrine more in line, and we won’t have stupid Christians floating around causing problems with misquoting and misrepresentations of Scripture.  Am I advocating a move back to what the church was before the Reformation?  No, what I am advocating is openness in the church, a sense of transparency on the part of the members of the Body, so that (1) we are actually living not as masked idiots but as unmasked idiots and (2) the world will be able to see us as less hypocritical (doesn’t that sound like what we are supposed to be doing anyway?).

This would also go along way in solving problems that the church has with outsiders.  Since the church is “fragmented” outside forces are more apt to slip in unannounced and to teach whatever it is that their little hearts desire.  It is a failure on the part of the leadership of the church to foster more community than just a social gathering that we are subject to these days.  At the service yesterday, a guest speaker was there to talk about psychics and the occult and what “we as Christians need to know” about these horrible sinful things.  Half of his message was in jest, the other in seriousness, and he slid back and forth so effortlessly that it was hard to follow when he was joking or not.  This was one problem with his message, if you are going to be up there talking about something you deem as serious stop making jokes!  The other problem was that he was not really addressing the text he was using very well.  He used Acts 16:16-18, talking about he slave girl with the spirit who kept following Paul around screaming about God.  This would have been ok, if he had not been reading our problems with psychics into the text, and saying that “our Christian nation” has fallen victim to these horrible fiends of wickedness.  But why did we fall to them?  Forget about America, they are not the church, and we are not America.  But if the church did fall prey to these psychics, why?  I think it was because of the fragmentation of the local churches through individualism.  Each to his own, blah blah blah.  As a Christian, don’t you think that your rights to freedom were superseded by that of Christ and the purity of His bride?  We need to get over this stupid idea that we have a right to privacy.  For the protection of the church and what it is the church is supposed to stand for, we have no privacy, we have no secrets, what is the need?

And as for psychics why is it that we are told they are fiendish?  What is it about them that makes them horrible?  Today we do have mostly actors or illusionists who are pulling tricks on us, but every once and a while, there stumbles along someone who actually does have contact with a spirit.  But why are they wrong?  Aside from the fact that God said “no, no,” I think it was because He wanted us to trust Him for oh, I don’t know EVERYTHING!  If we don’t have faith that God is going to do what He said He was going to do, then we have some problems and we need to take an evaluation of what is going on here.  We need to stop pretending that we can do all of this by our selves, because we can’t there is no way for us to.  And to seek advice on how to live your life from a medium?  Well, that just sounds kind of dumb to me.  Talk to God, read His Word, talk to Christians when you are having problems, don’t go outside the church…for heaven’s sake.

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