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Individualism Depreciates the Church

Self-absorbed Church/Body of Christ Individuality (Uniqueness)

Source: Tannen, Deborah. The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999. p.217.

Contributed By: Shawn Nichols | Date Posted: 2016-04-27

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25 ; Acts 2:42

Author: Shawn Nichols
6

ILLUSTRATION

Deborah Tannen does not write as a Christian, but rather as a professional rhetorician. In her book, The Argument Culture, she recognizes the difficulty for Americans to appreciate societal benefits against a backdrop of individual rights and privilages:

"Perhaps the most fundamental [difference between American and Asian cultures] is the Western assumption that the individual self is in ongoing opposition to society. You can hear this in everyday conversations, as people talk about learning to be true to themselves by resisting society’s expectations. Donal Carbaugh listened to hours of talk on the Phil Donahue show and found that a conflict between society and the individual self was a pervasive theme running through the comments of guests and audience members. For example, one guest expressed the hope that women would learn to “make a decision all by themselves without regard to what society or somebody else says.” Society is seen as the individual’s enemy, imposing demands that conflict with actualizing your own self."

 

APPLICATION

This same spirit of individualism has crept into the Church. While God is concerned about our redemption individually, He has crafted us into a body, each uniquely possessing only a few spiritual gifts. These gifts, when joined together in ecclesiastical community, comprise the full set of abilities able to accomplish all of God's commands. When believers view themselves only as individual entities in relationship to God, they fracture the body, handicap themselves in service, and distort the picture that Christ has painted of Himself. The Church is not about the individual person, it is about the individual Christ who saved us and has assembled us together in Him.

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentils, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Teacher Stuns Graduates With Message - You're Nothing Special

Individuality (Uniqueness) Approval (Seeking) Die To Self

Source: “Wellesley High grads told: ‘You’re not special’ By B. BROWN, Published: JUNE 5, 2012, The Swellesley Report

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-06-21

Scripture: Philippians 2:3 ; Romans 12:3

Author: David McCullough, Jr.
11

ILLUSTRATION

Massachusetts English teacher, David McCullough, Jr., created quite a stir when he delivered the faculty speech to the Wellesley High School Graduation Class of 2012. It was, by no stretch of the imagination, a “usual” high school commencement address. No glowing commendations. No string of positive superlatives. In fact, his message to this stunned group of high schoolers was quite the contrary as he drove home his recurring theme—“You are not special. You are not exceptional.”

Bummer, right? Wrong.

McCullough began by pointing out to the graduates a very physical reminder of their very commonplace position, asking them to consider even the very “ceremonial costume” they had donned for the occasion—“shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma … but for your name, exactly the same. All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special. You are not special. You are not exceptional.”
His seemingly scathing commentary continued:

“Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.

“Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community … But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not. …

“You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another … we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. …"

APPLICATION

Lest you be left to think that Mr. McCullough’s speech was utterly and completely a downer, his punch line puts all into perspective and makes a poignant conclusion:

“Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain … so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. … Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others … And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.

"Because everyone is.”

McCullough is right. Selflessness IS the best thing we can do for ourselves. In dying to self we become free to live to serve others. When we do, we will discover that “fulfilled life,” that “gratifying byproduct” that “happens when you’re thinking about more important things.”

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

Follow the link to source above to read the speech in its entirety.

Illustration Exchange

Building Your Individuality

Individuality (Uniqueness) Identity Stewardship

Source: “Rethinking Our Mental Framework,” Summer 2004 Issue, Vision.org

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-05-30

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:9

Author: Editors, Vision.org
3

ILLUSTRATION

“If the Human Genome Project has taught us anything, it is that we humans are, genetically, virtually identical: our DNA is more than 99.9% the same. Yet despite this underlying sameness, each of us is different—in appearance, in chemistry, and most importantly, in our minds. In the same way that rows of houses built from the same basic plan can differ in details, furnishings and decoration, so human similarity must give way to individuality, to each of us having a mind of our own."
 
Editors, Vision.org

APPLICATION

The article continues, “While the Bible doesn’t attempt to provide a scientific explanation for human individuality, it does supply a vital dimension to our understanding of the subject. The apostle Paul, writing to the first-century followers of Christ in Corinth, also used the analogy of buildings as he pointed out a key aspect of our individuality: ‘You are God’s building … As a wise master builder I have laid the foundation … But let each on take heed how he builds on it’ (1 Corinthians 3:9-10).”
 
In Christ, we are 99.9% the same. We boast of the same forgiveness, the same new birth, the same hope of eternal life, the same grace by which we are both saved and empowered for service. What we have in common is huge.
 
By comparison, what separates us is a miniscule .1% of the whole, so to speak. Yet it is here that we find all of our various differences. Differences which find their ultimate expression when we fulfill our unique and God given stewardship.
 
Build on the foundation of Christ by being the unique person God has designed you to be.
 
Illustration Exchange

Protecting Your Identity

Identity Justification (Positional) Eternal Security

Contributed By: Stephen Kingsley | Date Posted: 2019-07-14

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17 ; John 10:10

Author: Stephen Kingsley
9

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Drawn to the Well

Legalism Calling God's Love

Contributed By: Gabriel Carnes | Date Posted: 2019-03-29

Scripture: John 4:14 ; John 10:27

Author: Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
8

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The Importance of Every Member of the Church

Spiritual Gifts Holy Spirit Church/Body of Christ

Contributed By: Joe Chebat | Date Posted: 2019-03-06

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12 ; Romans 12:4

Author: Joe Chebat
5

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Pressure to Conform

Conformity Fellowship Transformation

Contributed By: Stephen Kingsley | Date Posted: 2019-01-29

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:14 ; Romans 12:2

Author: Stephen Kingsley
6

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Spilling Your Coffee

Fruit of the Spirit Character Transformation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-07-13

Scripture: Galatians 5:22

Author: Illustration Exchange
6

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The Spider (Delivery) Man

Church/Body of Christ Spiritual Gifts Encouragement

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-07-02

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25 ; Ephesians 4:16

Author: Illustration Exchange
4

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Do You Feel Plutoed?

Value (True Worth) Self-image Encouragement

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2018-01-24

Scripture: Galatians 2:20 ; Ephesians 1:7

Author: Neal Pollard
7

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