This filter is one of the most devastating to God’s goal and purpose. The New Testament is very clear that God wants His Son to be the Center and Head of all things.
“making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, for the administration of the fullness of the times to head up all things in Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things on earth, in Him, in whom we also have been chosen to an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of the One working all things according to the counsel of His own will …” Eph 1:10, 11
And that He accomplishes His purpose in and through His Church:
“This grace was given to me, I being less than the least of all the saints, to preach the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ among the nations, and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ, so that now to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies might be made known through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord …” Eph 3:9-11
Individuality and Individualism
God created us all as unique individuals to display His incredible variety and creativity. I always marvel at how each person is unique and yet there have been billions of people born! This is individuality and it is a wonderful blessing and privilege for each one of us to be different and to express the Lord in a unique way.
But there is a difference between individuality and individualism. Individualism is a direct result of the Fall of Man and has blinded us to see God’s eternal purpose because of our own self-centered perspectives. I tend to see everything from my own individualistic viewpoint, instead of the way God sees things. God is not individualistic. In fact, He is not even an individual! He is three Persons (Father, Son, and Spirit) who are one. They are distinct but they are not separate. They are truly ONE! But oneness is a concept (and definitely an experience) that we have a real hard time with. Why? Because the Fall separated us from God and from one another. The Fall made us see everything from the individualistic (separated) viewpoint. Now, even as Christians, we see everything from this individualistic, self-centered perspective. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.
Our View of the Lord Jesus Christ
I have written about this elsewhere, but let me just summarize here. We tend to think of Christ as being a lone individual. Ever hear the story of the “One Solitary Life”? His was never a solitary life! He lived in total oneness and community with the Father and the Spirit throughout eternity. Then, when He came to earth as man, He lived and worked in total alignment with the Father and the Spirit. In fact, He said that they were one and even lived in one another! (See John chapters 14-17) And yet we still see Him and think of Him as a separate individual. Don’t we?
Our View of the Scriptures
We also see the scriptures from the perspective of the individual. Don’t you know? The scriptures were written to me personally. It’s a “love letter” from the Lord to me! It’s all about Jesus and Me! God loves Me. He died for Me. He lives for Me. He saved Me. He heals Me. He teaches Me. On and on ad nauseum! Now of course God really does love you and care about you as an individual. But He wants us to grow up and be concerned about other things – namely, His eternal purpose! And the matter of fact is that the Bible was not written to individuals but to corporate entities.
The Old Testament was written to a corporate entity called Israel. The New Testament was written to a corporate entity called the Church. The letters (epistles) were virtually all written to local churches such as the church in Corinth, the church in Colossae, the churches in Galatia, etc. But yet we always take these scriptures and only apply them to us personally as individuals.
Our View of the Church
Even our view of Church is individualistic. Most Christians see church as a place where they go once a week to get their own personal needs met. The church is often viewed as either a classroom to educate or a restaurant to fill our spiritual bellies! But to God the Church is so much more. She is His house, bride, body, and family. She is His expression of His precious Son on the earth. This Church is the actual Body of the living Christ! And this Body is one. And this Body is definitely to be a corporate Image or expression of the Head. But yet we still approach the church as a vehicle for our own spiritual growth. Again, it’s about me and Jesus.
The reason it’s so difficult for us to live out the practical oneness and community life of God is that our mindset is so individualistic. Our culture is extremely individualistic and unfortunately, this culture usually has more pull on us than the Lord Himself! The community aspect of the Church suffers greatly because we are so busy with our own individual lives. This is why Jesus told us to lose our own lives and begin living the Christ-life. This life is community and this life is corporate.
Lord, please deliver us from the individualism that has hindered your eternal purpose for so long. Set us free from the filter of individualism to see You and Your Church as You truly are so that we can together be Your expression on the earth. Amen