The Body of Christ Calls for Individuality, not Individualism

bodyNow you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
— 1 Corinthians 12:27 —

The modern church is plagued by a “me and Jesus” mentality. Devotionals are aimed at isolated individuals, churches cater to the needs of every affinity group, and budding Christians are taught to read themselves into the Bible with little discernment of how Scripture actually speaks. (For instance Psalm 20:4 — “May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! — is a prayer for Jesus, not you).

Addressing this modern perversion of individuality, David Prior writes these insightful words in his commentary on 1 Corinthians. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:27, he states,

As the body of Christ operates in this way, so the individual members will find their real needs met. The need for security is met in the assurance that “I belong to the body.” The need for identity is met in recognizing and working at the fact that “I have a distinctive contribution to bring to the body.” The need for a proper sense of responsibility is met by assuming concern for others in the body: “I need you; I feel with you; I rejoice with you.” So each individual grows as a person and as a Christian in direct relation to his finding his place as a member of the body. The Scriptures speak of individuality, not of individualism. The latter phenomenon is a perversion of our calling in Christ. It plagues the church of God, spoiling its witness and tripling individuals.

This discovery of our individuality within the life of the Christian community remains as revolutionary a message in today’s world as it was in that of Paul and his Corinthian readers. It is a radical alternative both to the tyranny of totalitarianism and to the empty dreams of personal fulfillment to individuals. (The Message of 1 Corinthians, 216; emphasis mine).

Biblical Christianity is personal, individual, and intimate, but it is not private, individualistic, and isolated. Sons and daughters of God are also family, members of the body of Christ. Even as we rejoice in the personal relationship we have with God, may we not forget our familial relations God has given to us in the body of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Dramatizing the Gospel: Church Membership

bodyIn recent years, the human body has been reshaped and sometimes reengineered. Whereas gender was once biologically determined, today society invites children to choose their own gender. And for some, when their body doesn’t match their gender preference, they are invited to trade their parts for new ones.

Fortunately, Christians know that our bodies are not plastic figurines. We believe our bodies gifts from God, even if we might humbly protest their size, shape, or strength. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the body of Christ.

Christians who decry modern manipulations of gender often ignore the manifold ways Christ’s body has been misshapen. By ignoring what Scripture says about the church (a subject known as “ecclesiology”), evangelical churches have willingly retooled, repackaged, and recreated what churches look like—often with mantras like, “we do church differently,” or “we’re not your ordinary church.”

Such sloganeering reminds us how far the church is willing to bend with this principle in place: As long as we don’t change the message, it doesn’t matter how we do church. The problem with such a view is that it fundamentally ignores the Bible, especially how the NT speaks about membership in Christ’s body. Continue reading