Not way back, relativism outlined the cultural dialog. Reality was “unknowable.” Maybe it was someplace “out there,” however anybody’s guess as to the place was nearly as good as the subsequent.
That is now not the case.
Right now, we’re in a brand new cultural second—one marked not by relativism, however by a brand new phenomenon referred to as expressive individualism. Whereas relativism could label an assertion of exterior and goal fact as conceited, expressive individualism calls it oppressive. The relativist asks, “Who’s to say what’s true?” The expressive individualist replies, “Me.”
Look throughout the panorama of cultural artifacts, and also you’ll discover the identical motif repeatedly: Energy and freedom are present in self-discovery. As Tim Keller notes, “The only heroic narrative we’ve got left in our culture is the individual looking inside, seeing who they want to be, and asserting that over and against everyone else in society.”
So we actually have moved on from relativism: Reality is not solely knowable, it’s been discovered. All it’s a must to do is look inside your self.
Individualism and the Church
Many within the church can sniff out—even refute—relativism. We’ve been handed sufficient apologetic instruments and primary reasoning abilities to dismantle the notion that fact is subjective. Expressive individualism, nevertheless, is extra insidious. It permits us to seem as if we’re worshiping God, when in actuality we’re bowing to the god of self. It acknowledges the facility of Jesus, however convinces us that he intends to make use of his energy to additional our personal self-centered targets and aspirations. It agrees we could be sure about fact, however factors to our personal hearts because the supply.
Once we middle every part, from Sundays to small teams, on the person expertise, we stoke the fireplace of self-worship.
It’s sobering to consider the church’s collusion with this framework. Moderately than pushing again in opposition to individualism, congregations usually subtly encourage it. Once we middle every part, from Sundays to small teams, on the person expertise, we stoke the fireplace of self-worship. If we’re not cautious, we will betray the message that “Christ is king” with a way that claims, “Actually, you are.”
Deny Your self
Biblically talking, it’s troublesome to search out two phrases extra antithetical than self and church. And it’s not as if we should wade by means of cloaked language to find this antithesis. When Jesus calls us into his church, his cost is just not that we uncover however deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24–25). Additional, when Jesus enumerates the issues that spring from our hearts, fact doesn’t make the record. Solely false testimony and evil ideas do.
Or pull on any thread in Paul’s epistles, and also you’ll discover it related to a name to pursue humble unity and think about others extra vital than your self. Merely put, a biblical understanding of what it means to imagine in Jesus and belong to his church is incompatible with expressive individualism.
Biblically talking, it’s troublesome to search out two phrases extra antithetical than ‘self’ and ‘church.’
Reality is neither relative nor self-generated; it’s knowable. In reality, it’s touchable. Final fact exists within the type of a person, the God-man—the one who died for our sinful hearts in order that we might die to them.
The fruit-desiring, lie-believing, wilderness-wandering self is the very factor we bury as we’re buried with Christ. His loss of life for us turns into our loss of life to self, and his new life turns into our new life—a life by which we deny ourselves as a substitute of listening to ourselves, by which we take up our cross as a substitute of taking on our goals, and by which we observe him as a substitute of following our hearts.
Church Planting’s Counter-Tradition
Church planting has all the time been central to Jesus’s mission. However it’s significantly useful and corrective in right now’s cultural local weather. As embodied creatures, we’re fashioned by what we do. Our rhythms of life form us from the surface in. What we do with our time, our palms, our lips, our cash—all of it shapes our hearts. Similar to the liturgy of a worship gathering, the strategy turns into a part of the message. And each the strategy and likewise the message of church planting frequently remind us that we’re not the purpose.
Planting a church requires a radical dedication to a unified, company identification. This dedication naturally undermines expressive individualism, because it merely received’t permit us to position ourselves—our beliefs, our preferences, our wishes—on the middle of the church’s purpose for existence.
Planting a church requires a radical dedication to a unified, company identification. This dedication naturally undermines expressive individualism.
Once we plant church buildings and press into the challenges, we invite our brothers and sisters into rhythms of life and ministry that may, slowly however certainly, drive the primacy of self to erode. And that may, repeatedly, yield the blessed—albeit painful—reminder that we’re not, the truth is, the arbiters of fact and goodness.
In a church plant, it’s a must to strip away the superfluous for the sake of the important. Whereas there’s nothing essentially improper with applications and manufacturing, the simplicity of a church plant presents a repeated invitation to forsake self-centeredness for self-denial.
Musical preferences start to pale compared to the gorgeous sound of a faculty cafeteria filling with gospel-proclaiming voices. Preaching “style” issues little when a front room is full of these listening to their pastor faithfully mine the depths of God’s Phrase week in and week out. Life as part of a church plant has a approach of forcing us to not solely preserve the reality of the gospel central, but in addition major. And it teaches us, in each message and technique, that we should day by day belief our devoted King quite than our fickle selves.
At a time when the church is, lamentably, one of many first locations to capitulate to individualism, church planting offers Christ’s followers an opportunity to frequently train the much-needed observe of main our hearts quite than following them. It takes no matter “truth” we expect we’ve discovered inside and subverts it with the pre-eminence of Christ and the reality of the gospel. And the extra we preserve that fact—the fact—on the forefront, the faster the so-called fact we discover “within” will get uncovered for the counterfeit that it’s.