Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fueling the Fire; Individualism

Another value that is absolutely essential to success in our world and culture today is the idea of individualism. This is about personal uniqueness. We believe in and affirm the uniqueness of every person. We believe that God created us all to be unique, and that he wants us to use that uniqueness to shine for him. This does NOT mean that life is all about you. It isn't. You see, if you live a selfish life, only looking out for your interests, you may think you are living a life that is unique, but you aren't. There is nothing unique about living for yourself; we are all naturally wired to be selfish. If you want to be truly unique, it only happens when you lay down selfishness and decide to be a part of a community. True uniqueness is only seen in the context of a community.

All too often, the church is seen as the organization that creates standardization. We celebrate the idea of discipleship so we can become a disciple, and that has the same base as the word "discipline." We have a very military image of the word discipline in our minds, it projects an image of people looking the same, marching in lockstep. This is not a flattering image, but more importantly, it is also not a biblical image.

God did not make us all unique so that we could find ourselves in church one day so we could then be made all the same. Uniqueness is something to be treasured and celebrated, not fought against and hidden. Throughout the Bible, people make reference to how God made us in a special way; the Psalms talk about how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and how God delicately knit us together in our mother's womb. Ephesians 2:10 calls us God's "worksmanship," another word for that is "masterpiece!" You are the unique masterpiece of God, and just how we would never take great sculptures or paintings and try and make them look the same, the church should never attempt to standardize humanity.

We are created to become like Christ in our character. That means we lose the hateful, mean-spirited and evil parts of ourselves to take on a character of love, peace, courage, and gentleness. Keep in mind here that our character has nothing to do with changing our uniqueness. It doesn't matter if you are outgoing or introverted, athletic or a bookworm, loud or quiet, all of those personality traits can remain as you change your character.

God doesn't want to change your personality, he wants to change your character! And remember, we don't ever want to make you look just like us, we want you to look like what God truly created you to be.

Maybe you are searching for who you are. Let me tell you this: If you truly want to find your unique self, you must be where Jesus is. Where He is the where true uniqueness is found and celebrated. We would love to have you on the journey with us.

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