Sermon Notes for Sunday, August 20
Unique and United
by Tanner Fox
Two weeks ago we began with the discussion the value of human life: our first, on abortion, and this week concluded with euthanasia and assisted suicide. Dr. Swanson covered a great deal of ethical ground on Sunday. Though many of us are not facing specific end-of-life situations right now, I was reminded of the subversive, systemic mindset that lies beneath these issues as well as many others: individualism.
Merriam-Webster defines Individualism as: a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
As defined above, individualism is in direct opposition to the Gospel. There is no space in Christianity for the individual to determine truth, value or duties apart from the Word of God. When humans begin to look inwardly to find truth, they inevitably unearth truths that best serve their own well-being, tendencies, wants, perceived needs, etc. Individuals blindly fumble, in sin, towards what they believe will ultimately fulfill them, so much so that even our greater conversations about human rights and equality are often rooted ultimately in self.
“Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
Left unchecked, we are prone to make decisions and justify beliefs that have no foundation in Biblical truth. As painful as it may be to realize, individualism has caused us to justify certain sins in our own lives and has further insulated us. It leads us to surround ourselves with only people who think like we do.
Truth can only be found, in an ultimate sense, in the Word of God. This is not simply because the Bible has the best answers to the problems we face, though it does, but because it is the basis of all truth from the sole source of truth. The character and nature of God almighty is revealed, through his word, through his law, through history and is to be the guiding principle by which we live and thrive in this world!
It is also important to make the distinction between individualism as uniqueness and the definition above. You may say, “But I thought God wanted us to be unique and be true to ourselves.” I would say, in part, that is correct. God made us each unique image-bearers and to have gifts and skills that we offer to the world as individuals, yet he requires us to be united to his purpose and obedient to his word. Looking for meaning or belief inside ourselves proves fruitless. God graciously provides those pieces for us. Our individualism/uniqueness flows from the elements of our character, talents and passion that reveal God’s character here on earth. We could never reveal him holistically or perfectly, but we are all made in his image. And even better, we, collectively, are the body.
12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts… 27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12:12-14,27)
As the culture pushes further in the direction of individualism, it is imperative that we take a moment to recognize how it has crept into our own lives. On what subjects do we look inwardly for answers or allow ourselves to be guided by feelings?
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org