It feels like we’re all left to our own devices these days (pun intended). I have personally grown in my dependence upon objects/apps over the last few years. I can tangibly feel the digital world dulling my responses to daily experiences in lieu of the pictures I see from the lives of every Norwegian I follow on Instagram. Science is starting to show my sense of direction is diminishing because of my dependence on GPS (read this). And apparently my ability to hear my wife while in the same room decreases exponentially in proportion to how close my phone’s screen is to my face.
These days I have a greater sense of connectedness without actually having it. I can spend the weekend with people without actually being with people. I can easily excuse myself from difficult online conversations to direct message my wife with succulents pictures. I can unfollow people that don’t think the way I do and fill my feeds with people that agree with me on every issue. But I have to ask myself: am I truly growing in connectedness, or am I really just headed further up and further in to a cloud of digital noise? For some reason I have found it so easy to try and fill my need for connection with a well-trafficked digital footprint, while more than ever realizing this way of living makes me feel alone.
It seems the world leans as much on its axis around the sun as it does toward this sense of individualism. Apart from the current cultural trends of group fitness, hipster coffeeshop hangouts, and Pokémon Go outings with strangers it doesn’t seem like this leaning will change anytime soon. In many ways, individualism has become synonymous with freedom. Is our heart to stand out keeping us from standing with others? Or will our individuality ultimately help us to break down the walls that keep us from understanding and connecting with each other?
God has called the Church to be one.
“So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6 (Amplified)
Regardless of our personal leanings and desires, God has called the church to be one. We were not made to make it alone, we were made to be made one. God’s will is to create a unity within diversity in the church that displays the reality of heaven to the world. The reality the world longs for is to be revealed and expressed through His church.
Man’s aloneness is the only thing considered “not good” before man sinned against God.
"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” Genesis 2:18 (ESV)
Though this passage from Genesis clearly is communicating God’s original intent for marriage, it also connects His desire for community to be comprised of human diversity that He can join together to make one. Our individuality is good when it is given the means to become one. Our unique giftings, desires, and personality traits flourish when we find them fostering unity among others.
Our individuality should never come at the expense of community, but rather our communities should be enhanced by the inherent uniqueness we bring to the table.
“And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (ESV)
Here's what I love about the church. When Jesus asked the disciples to follow Him, there was no defining attribute that they had other than the faith to follow Him. A political zealot, a tax collector, a doctor, some fisherman and their close friends...The twelve disciples were a diverse bunch. Jesus valued the diversity found within the men who responded to His call. He honored their differences. He never expected them to look the same, come from the same background, exemplify the same giftings. He did not approach them with a cookie cutter ideology and attempt to make them all look the same. He took all of their differences and made them one. His only expectation was that they would follow, learn from, and give away everything they received from Him.
May we be a church that puts down our phones to pick up the broken and alone to set them in our homes. May we be a church that honors diversity and allows God to create a unity the likes of which the world longs to see. Jesus, make us one as we lay down our 'nets to follow You (again, pun intended).