Autonomy is essentially independence or the freedom to pursue one’s own desires. When the church collectively permits or respects this value it sacrifices koinonia for self-promotion. So, if I don’t like the teaching of the church because it is too convicting I stay home. If the worship style does not suit me, I watch something online that is appealing. If I need to sleep in, tune out, be left alone, I can. When the church is about me, I like it. But do I really?
1 Timothy 5:5-6--The real widow, left all alone, has put her hope in God and continues night and day in her petitions and prayers; however, she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
God did not design the church to be cactus-like. He designed us to be strawberry-like. When we study the two plants we see two completely different cultures. One stands alone and survives the other is highly interrelated and thrives. Individualism is attractive because we like to have our own way and make our own way. But it is fraught with danger because accountability and encouragement is lost. Selfish desires are protected by isolation—no wonder people prefer solo Christianity.
Individualism produces stunted believers. Note what Oswald Chambers taught about individuality in The Psychology of Redemption:
Individuality is the strong and emphatic and somewhat ugly husk that guards the personal life. Individuality is a right characteristic in a child, but in a man or woman it is not only objectionable but dangerous, because it means independence of God as well as of other people, and independence of God is of the very nature of sin. The only way we can get rid of the pride of individuality and become one with Jesus Christ is by being born from above.
Community produces encouragement, accountability, power, and the enjoyment of shared spiritual gifts. God intended for us to live in fellowship and this is what we ought to aspire for—letting go of selfishness to gain a better more fruitful life.
When a church focuses on meeting the needs of individuals, Jesus and the Bible become a personal, need-meeting machine.—Jim Van Yperen in Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict, p. 30
©2021 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)