By: Dustin Walker
Recently I’ve read two different books that brought up the same phrase:
Radical Individualism is essentially the belief that an individual’s needs take precedence over the needs of the group. This is a worldview that most of us in America, whether we know it or not, tend to practice.
We make choices regarding education, career, spouse, where we will live, how we spend/save our money, etc. all based on what we believe is best for me.
I’m guilty of this, and I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’ve lived this way for pretty much my entire life. I’m pretty sure you are guilty of this too.
Yet, when I read my favorite books from the New Testament, especially Ephesians, I read about something that seems foreign but beautiful.
That’s where I start to understand that the pronouns are in the plural. Each ‘you’ I read in Ephesians isn’t talking about me. It is a ‘y’all’ that is talking to me in a group, in a community.
One could describe the community we read about in Ephesians and elsewhere as Ordinary Togetherness. What made it remarkable was the way in which the gospel motivated this kind of community and family-like behavior of people so different from one another.
I read things like:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)
Rather than this being all about me being a piece of God’s craftsmanship, I am part of the overall craftsmanship God has created in the church. The good works he has for me are embedded in the good works he has for the church.
For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. (Eph. 2:14)
This verse is not about my personal salvation alone. It is not just about me on the outside of a wall looking in. It is about us being separated collectively from one another. But these boundaries have now been destroyed in Christ, and we have freedom together in Him.
In him, the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (Eph. 2:21)
I am not personally a holy temple that I take care of with leafy green vegetables and high-intensity workouts. Rather, I’m a part of this holy temple whose spiritual health is mutually connected with others so that we might give praise to God through Jesus Christ.
Community groups are one rhythm we practice to call each other out of our radical individualism. But these groups are to serve as catalysts to ordinary togetherness, not as an artificial, programmatic substitute for it. What’s required then is for us to practice this community and togetherness in the average, everyday stuff of life. Here are some ways we can do just that.
Eat dinner with other people. This means if you’re single you’ll need to invite others over for dinner or essentially invite yourself over to eat dinner with someone else. And if you’re married and/or have kids, make a point to share your dinner table with others on a regular basis.
Think of the loneliness that would be abated if we
What are some errands you need to do in the next week or even month? Why not involve others in that process? Grocery store shopping, car registration renewal, take your dog to the vet or planning for a birthday party. The possibilities here are endless.
What is a project that you’re working on right now or will be in the coming weeks? Whether it is fixing a leaky pipe, painting a room, having a yard sale, or moving to a new house or apartment, these are great opportunities to get help, to teach, and to care for one another.
For us to enjoy the wonderful benefits of the radical togetherness that Ephesians speaks to we must make intentional choices to reject our radical individualism. It will mean we must think about how to include others as Christ has included us. But that is kind of the whole point.