God is not an individualist. In fact, the Trinity is beyond our understanding. God in three persons in perfect unity is our standard. Jesus further said in John 17:
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Individualism is out, but what is individualism?
the principle, habit or belief in independent thought or action.
I read a book called Why the Rest Hates the West. I thought they would say our pride and insensitivity. They said it was our individualism. It is destroying the links between each other thereby making them less alive. In some sense, we are killing them.
Did God Intend Individualism?
In graduate school, I read a book called The Gift. It described how non Western cultures give gifts to create connection and expect to receive a reciprocal gift. In the West we talk about Free Gifts with no strings attached. That is not a Christian idea. Jesus did not give us a cold Free Gift for example.
Evangelicals like us ask people to seek a personal relationship with God. John Edwards and others are thought to have started the Evangelical movement about 1738AD. We can be evangelical without being individualistic though. Let’s think more.
Martin Luther and he followers speaking in the 1500’s were not Evangelical. They spoke of principalities in community deciding for Christ.
In the picture above, note China and the US have lots of Christians. China is collective and not individualistic. Further note Congo, Nigeria and Ethiopia are also collective.
When I married Jo, we both had faith, but she was collective, and I was individualistic. A clear example came when we were sitting at the dining table when we were first married.
I saw the bread on the counter behind her, and I got up and went around and got it. She asked me why I got married if I do not want to depend on her. This was a great example. Why was I so independent? Even desperately so.
Individualism is a small or big part of everyone in the West. God is mostly not as He is Triune. Individualism is about not depending on others. May God help us be a dependent part of our family, and our community. Dependent living has risks. People will fail and disappoint us. Nonetheless, life is here. Let us also learn to depend on God. Such connections will give us life.