Archive for love

Influence of American Culture | Individualism

Posted in NTBC C&C with tags , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by Mark Hanson

When thinking of American culture, what does individualism look like, how do people express their individualism?

  • This is most immediately seen in our externals. It shows up in the choice of clothes, hair style, tattoo’s, piercings, music, friends, groups, political leaning, gender orientation, homes, cars, electronic equipment, hobbies, drugs, drinking, etc.
  • But there is also the internal elements that can be effected as well. Attitude, belief, conviction, preference, morals, and conscience among other things also communicate the individualism of the inner person.

When thinking of American culture, how would you define individualism? And what does that look like?

  • Vernacular, The word individualism has been used to denote a personality with a strong tendency towards self creation and experimentation often associated and seen in various forms of art.
  • Technically, an individual unit refers to something “indivisible,” the lowest possible denominator, typically describing a singular thing, like “a person.”
  • Conceptually, individualism makes the individual its focus and starts with the idea that the human individual is the most important. It promotes a person’s goals and desires through independence and self-reliance while opposing external authority upon one’s self, whether by society, group or institution, or even considering the interests of society at large. It does not place value on the sacrifice of self-interest for any higher purpose. It is a method of giving measurable meaning to life.

Taken to an extreme individualism will result a complete rejection of all authority, in other words anarchy. Individualism in its fullest sense, is just selfishness taken to the highest degree. America hasn’t gone that far as a whole, but there are many who believe in this concept as a guiding principle for life. It has supported things like self-esteem, self-awareness, self-love, self-image, etc., often come up in conversation when someone says “what is true for you is not necessarily true for me,” which reveals their understanding of relative truth. If “I” preside over what is “individually” right for me, then ones own authority is supreme and no one else has the right or a corner on the truth to say otherwise

Is there anything wrong with attempting to be unique and stand out from everyone else?

  • Inherently, uniqueness is not wrong otherwise every person who have to be identical. Instead you have to ask yourself why you are doing something, what is the motivating factor in making the decision? Is it to make yourself more visible so you draw attention and impress others? Is it so you be accepted into another group? Is it something where the one determining factor is how it will benefit self?

Does this concept fit with what the Bible teaches about individuality for the believer?

  • John 5:30 “… I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 — “… You were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God’s.”
  • Romans 12:1-2 — “… Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

As Christians we must always keep in mind that American individuality is all about self, and has little to do with service. God has created us to be individuals so we can in turn give that uniqueness back to Him.

So how does individuality fit within and look like in the Church context?

I think too often we stop reading Romans 12 right after verse 2, but the following applies to how we are to then live:

  • Romans 12:3-5 — “… so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

God uses one main illustration to show what individualism within the church looks like:

  • 1 Corinthians 12 — “… But all these work from one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ… But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body… Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular…”

God grants every individual uniqueness since there are no two identical people on this planet. He also gives special gifts and abilities to individuals for the purpose of using them in service to and for God. We must be taking full advantage of the individuality that God has given us for the benefit of others. The primary place this should happen in in the church. With the analogy of the church being the “body,” each individual is required to comprise the greater whole of the “individual” church body.

>> The Point

We are individuals. God has created us that way. But we cannot place any confidence in our individual uniqueness. Our meaning in life must be derived from God and from our new family in Christ found in the church. Meaning is not created by making myself more unique, it is created when the gifts and talents God gives me are used in service, first to the household of faith, and then to everyone else rather than just consumed for selfish gain and benefit.

Revealing – Part I

Posted in theoflections, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by Mark Hanson

After my last post I decided to take a deeper look into each of the main points from my Love… as Christ does the church post. While this is more for my own personal challenge in being the husband God has called me to be, all of these elements should challenge us in our daily lives as we strive to reflect Christ as being evident in all of our relationships.

Revealing God

Christ’s statement: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world (the church)… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known” in John 17:6, 26 denotes that Christ took upon Himself the responsibility of manifesting or revealing God’s very essence to His people the church.

1) Revealing God is seen in obedience.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” – John 14:23-24, 31

2) Revealing God is seen in relationship.

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples… he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 9:10, 12; 14:14

3) Revealing God is seen in sacrifice.

“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.– 1 John 4:9-11

Christ sacrificed via a human relationship by obeying God. As such He revealed more of God to us. May we strive to do the same in our relationships and marriages.

Love… as Christ does the church

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , on December 14, 2009 by Mark Hanson

This past Saturday brought the special privilege and joy of attending a wedding in which Ephesians 5 was given as a challenge to the couple. It really gave me a good opportunity to reflect on my own marriage, and was quite a challenge. The main part that stuck out to me was:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself.” – Ephesians 5:28-33

This gave me pause to think of how I’m suppose to reflect Christ in the way that I love my wife so that it resembles the love that He displays for His church. Here are some broad applications drawn from Christ’s prayer in John 17 that should be evident in my married life:

By Revealing God to her

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world (the church)… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known. – John 17:6, 26

By Praying for her

“I am praying for them (the church)… that you keep them from the evil one… sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:9, 15-17

By Guarding her

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them.” – John 17:11-12

By Dedicating my life to and for her

“And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” – John 17:19

By properly Honoring her

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” – John 17:22

By Living so that the world will know that Christ sent me to love her

“So that the world may know that you sent me (Christ) and loved them (the church) even as you loved me.” – John 17:23

By Loving so she can see God’s love in my love for her

“That the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:26

Creed of the Knights of the Round Table

Posted in poetical poetry with tags , , , , on December 10, 2009 by Mark Hanson

This is one of my favorite poems…

“To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,

To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,

To honor his own word as if his god’s,

To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,

To love one maiden only,

And worship her by years of noble deeds.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson