The Case Against Individualism
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
1 Cor. 12:12-14 (NKJV)
Individualism is a false conviction of the heart which says that I am not answerable, responsible, or obligated to anyone including friends, family, church leaders or even God. It is self-deception which masks itself as a “leading from God,” but portrays an attitude of rebellion toward God’s revealed will.
Individualism in the Christian life is a destructive force. Individualism says that I can live the Christian life without the joy of fellowship, without accountability, without encouragement, without guidance, and without the sacraments. An individualistic mindset shuns authority, responsibility, and community. It says that I can live the Christian life without you, the body of Christ. I don’t want to be challenged. I don’t want my blind spots exposed. I don’t want to minister to needy people and serve others. I want to do my own thing just me, my Bible, and God.
Individualism fails to understand that the day I was baptized, I was brought into the Body of Christ and placed in covenant relationship with other believers. Individualism refuses to acknowledge the biblical truth that I cannot grow in my relationship with Jesus without the help and assistance of other believers (Eph. 4:11-13).
The Christian life is a “new community: a new family, a new pattern of human togetherness which results from the unity of the Lord’s people in the Lord, henceforth to function under the one Father as a family and a fellowship” (J.I. Packer).
By becoming a Christian, I belong to God and I belong to my brothers and sisters. It is not that I belong to God and then make a decision to join a local church. My being in Christ means being in Christ with those others who are in Christ. This is my identity. This is our identity. . . . If the church is the body of Christ, then we should not live as disembodied Christians.
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, Ill, Crossway Books, 2008), 41.