Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bursting Bubbles of Individualism

God created humankind as social beings. This is not an accident, a mistake, or a result of the fall. We are created in the image of the triune God who is relational to the core, existing in a loving and ever deferring dance of community; Father, Son, and Spirit.

Western individualism is an expression of humanities broken, marred, sinful nature. Ultimately it is rooted in selfishness but it also finds momentum as people shy away from relationship as a result of offense, abuse, and the negative experiences everybody goes through in relationships. When brokenness encounters brokenness, as people come together in relationship, there is always the potential for fireworks that are not always positive and life giving.

One of the incredible attractions of individualism is its ability to create an island or a bubble of self-existence. An individual who lives a self focussed life (or at best, a nuclear family focussed life), can set up a fence, a wall, a boundary that keeps whatever is happening in the rest of the world out. It also makes it possible to live unaware of what is happening in the rest of the world. When the wall or the fence is higher enough, it is possible in our western context to truly live the 'good life.' One can eat, drink and be merry with little and even no consideration for others.

The relational triune God created and invited humanity into relationship with God and each other. Sin stuffed it all up. The relational triune God came in the flesh, incarnate, in order to make relationship with God and each other possible again. The gospel, the cross, Jesus Christ bursts bubbles of individualism. The gospel challenges us to think communally and live communally. It challenges us to live in loving, deferring, generous relationship with each other and the rest of the created order, out of our restored and loving relationship with God. The bubble is burst. The island has been bridged. The fence and the wall have been torn down.

This changes everything. 

One can no-longer hide from the pain, heartache, injustice, needs and challenges that face our neighbours, our workmates, and our global community. One cannot ignore the reality of the brokenness in the world, hide away from it, or deny it. Escapism is not an option. Rather one is invited to partner with the Spirit’s work in the world to bring healing, restoration and life! The challenge is enormous, the adventure life long, the reward incredible. 

With the help of the Spirit when brokenness encounters brokenness, as people come together in relationship, there is the potential for healing, love and true life to be found.

Resist the pull to build walls of individualism and isolation around your life. The sense of protection is false. The bliss of ignorance a deception. 

Embrace life relationally and communally, be the kind of person you were created to be. Help restore that which is broken.

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts Joseph, def a lot harder to live a life deferring to others but oh so much more rewarding!!!