Recently, I heard the podcast of a message preached by Tim Keller entitled, “Real Friendship and the Pleading Priest.” (This is in the series The Gospel According to Abraham.)
We live in a Western culture, especially as Americans in one of the most individualistic cultures there has ever been. What I mean by an “individualistic culture” is that we really deny the idea of corporate responsibility. We believe in individual responsibility. Western people say, “It doesn’t matter what my father did or my grandfather did. It doesn’t matter what my race did. It doesn’t matter what my people have done. I’m not responsible for what anyone else has done. No one else’s record can influence me. I stand or fall,-I’m judged strictly by what I have done.
Does this sound familiar?
In America, it is common for many to live without any regard for others. Consequently, men and women make decisions based solely on their individual preferences without regard for anyone else.
“It’s my life and I can do what I want to do!”
I suppose that we can follow the rest of the herd and do what most of this culture seems to be doing.
Yet, the Bible offers a much different vision of life. The Bible offers a vision of a Christ-following community in which men and women look out for one another’s welfare. Consequently, as I reflect upon my week and the decisions that I need to make, I might ask what might be in the best interest of my congregation. What is in the best interest of my marriage? What is in the best interest of my children? What is in the best interest of my extended family? Such questions challenge me to think about the impact of my decision on others instead of announcing my right to choose and then forging ahead with what I wish to do.
Can you recall a decision that you made totally focused on your own self-interest and later regretted it? Do you recall later seeing the impact of that decision on others (family, friends, church)?
What are the drawbacks to such individualism?