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The Death of The Individual

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  –Matthew 25:23

One national talk show host likes to use the term “groupthink” because he says it is symbolic of where our culture is at today.  Groupthink started in grade school where all the kids had teams to work together on the projects they were assigned. The team would do the work together and they would be graded together, all getting the same grade. I noticed that my kids were some of the few kids who would do the work and kick start the team ahead. The problem I noticed is that some kids didn’t do any work, while other kids did all the work. This started a process where thinking was done in a group, and never on your own. Process was always done with others, and that is how you perfected the process of “groupthink.”  Whatever the idea was that the group came up with was always much better than what you could do on your own.  Perhaps the educational process that started this team/groupthink wasn’t devising a system to destroy the individual, but that is exactly what it has done.  There is no thinking outside of the group box, and life doesn’t exist any more as an individual – after all, strength is in numbers. Anyone who thinks outside of the group setting isn’t accepted.  Men from the past century such as James J. Hill, Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie, who forged America into the industrial revolution, would not be accepted in today’s technological world. Why? Because they were men whose ideas drove their lives, and their progress wasn’t dependant on the consensus of the groupthink.

This kind of thinking has also permeated many churches, elevating the group and ostracizing the individual. We want clarity that comes from a standard evaluation from a group of pastors, scholars, authors and the like. And the consensus of a group always bears more credibility than an individual.  Do you think I am wrong?

How about the Pharisees and Jesus. Did they not come against him because he was not a learned man, a man from Nazareth?

“Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers?” they asked. 55“Is this not the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 Aren’t all His sisters with us as well? Where then did this man get all these things?”…Matthew 13:55

There was no learned consensus accompanying Jesus, He said what He did and you either had to believe Him, or dismiss Him as a false prophet. Jesus didn’t come with a cohort of learned support He came as an individual that reflected the word of God, and that was His consensus.

John 1:14 John “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Ross Clark writing for The Spectator, a magazine in the UK, said this:

Of all changes in British life over the past generation, nothing has been quite so as stark as the strange death of individualism.” 

Until the mid-1990s everyone seemed to want to leave smoky, rotten old London. Yet there has been a snap-back, with people choosing to live piled on top of each other in overpriced broom cupboards, while rural property struggles to sell. (London’s population was under 7 million in 1995, and has now passed 8.5 million.) There has to be some other explanation for the rise in herd behavior. Some interpret it as a reaction to more solitary working environments. Where once we worked close together in factories, goes the argument, now more of us work from home, and so we get to the end of the day gagging for human company.”

We have seen changes like this here in America as well. Young people not interested in home ownership per se, but wanting to live in carefree turn-key condos with the freedom to come and go in their free time. This herd culture has helped microbreweries spring up all over our city drawing large crowds of young people.  My biggest concern is that this herd mentality will ostracize the person who thinks differently, acts differently, and has a different worldview from the herd. I believe this is where bullying has it roots, in picking on people who are different than the herd.

In the church if you have a different point of view than the herd, you are seen as someone who is off base or delusional in some manner. For example, I was speaking with several pastors recently about the treatment of women in the church or in Christian organizations. They were somewhat stunned to think that women are often treated with less respect in a corporate Christian setting than men.  Most women I have talked with, if they are honest, feel put down, marginalized, or not taken as seriously as a man. I felt like I had just nailed some questions to the Wittenberg Door.

My point is as an individual it is great to cooperate with others, that is what is called being a part of His body, but we should never lose our individual right to think and use our gifts accordingly without the scrutiny of the HERD CULTURE.

When we stand before God, our rewards will be based upon our personal sacrifices as an individual, and the words, “well done my good and faithful servant will not be said to a group, but to the individual.” My concern for today’s posting is for you to realize that the herd is not always right, nor is it good to groupthink with people who are convinced that they have the right answers simply because they have a consensus.

Beware of those with consensus, their theology may be agreeable, but that doesn’t make it right!

Keeping it truthful and honest...K 

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