The Disease of Individualism


All Members of Christ’s Body 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ESV

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, encouragement, guidance, and the sacraments. An individualistic mindset avoids 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 says that I am not answerable, responsible, or obligated to anyone including friends, family, and church leaders. It is a form of self-deception, masking itself as a “leading from God,” but portraying an attitude of rebellion toward God and his delegated authorities.

Individualism fails to understand that the day we were baptized, we were ushered into the Body of Christ and placed in covenant relationship with other believers (1 Cor. 12: 12-14). Individualism refuses to acknowledge the biblical truth that we cannot grow in our 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, “The Gospel and the Lord’s Supper,” in Serving the People of God: Collected Shorter Writings of J.I. Packer, 4 vols.  (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1998), 2:44

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.


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