Reading Scripture: Christianity and Church Community

One of the challenges that Christians face in North America is the individualism that we filter the Christian faith through. We do this because we are culturally conditioned as residents within North America which is shaped predominately by Western thought that is individualistic. That’s very different from Eastern societies, including those of the Bible, which are community-oriented in thought.

As an individualistic society, the most important person is the self, whose identity is always distinguished from the others. What matters is that we are true to ourselves and that we be ourselves because it is the self that is ultimately sovereign. That is different from the community-oriented life where family and tribe are more valuable than the self, so that the welfare of the family and tribe are more important than individual expression.

In their book Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes, authors E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien write…

If we’re not careful, our individualistic assumptions about church can lead us to think of the church as something like a health club. We’re members because we believe in the mission statement and want to be a part of the action. As long as the church provides the services I want, I’ll stick around. But when I no longer approve of the vision, or am no longer “being fed,” I’m out the door. This is not biblical Christianity. (p. 107).

No it’s not! The question then is how else might we handle different issues of conflict and disagreement so that we’re not bolting for the nearest door overtime we don’t get our way like something?

Well, w need to get over ourselves! What I mean is that as long as our concern is individualistic, not only is that being self-centered but it is very unlike Christ whom we confess as Lord… whose example we are to take up, which is exactly what Paul instructs in Philippians 2:5-8.

Perhaps it is time we ask God in prayer to retrain us to read scripture with a concern for the community above our individual selves.

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2 responses to “Reading Scripture: Christianity and Church Community

  1. I believe the reason for our Country’s individualism is the fact that America has become a melting pot of every ethnicity in the world which brings their own values, morals, traditions, viewpoints, religion, et cetera. Thus the church is the same way, probably because people don’t totally give their lives over to Jesus Christ! Most Countries in Europe and the rest of the world are one people for the most part, e.g. Germany are Germans, France are French, Italy are Italians, Russia are Russians and so on. America is part of every one of them. Therefore, there is likely to be the same people gathering with other same people, instead of everyone melting into one America! There is so much division, divisiveness, since we are all separated by our language and traditions. People want to keep their own ethnicity, their own traditions, their own language, their own ways that remains comfortable to each one? Just a thought, an opinionated viewpoint.

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