Thursday, September 28, 2006

Implications of Individualism

Over at my Get Serious blog, I wrote a piece about individualism and it's impact on America, both in the family and in the community. The foundation for the argument rests upon the family and how its members see themselves in relation to it. As such, there are implications for our children and how we raise them.

In our culture we raise our children with the ultimate vision of sending them off to make their own way in the world, independent of their family. The children know this, and anticipate that day of emancipation. If you were to ask "Johnny" who he is, he would reply, "I am Johnny." followed by a quizzical look as to why you wouldn't understand that. This reply shows that he has been fully inculcated with the concept of individualism: the world begins and ends with him.

The result is that our culture is full of a bunch of individuals, each doing his own thing in his own direction for his own satisfaction. In some sense, this results in a culture of success...monetary, standard of living, etc. But in a darker sense, it results in a culture that doesn't connect with each other. Everything from the culture of success is temporal; it is only relationships that will last eternally, and even then, only those relationships between people for whom Christ is their Lord and Savior.

I once heard R.C. Sproul, Sr. discussing the issue of family and how children related to it. He pointed out that in the Sproul family, the children were taught at the youngest age that when asked what their name was, they were to give it. But when asked who they were, the answer was "I am a Sproul." They would then follow it up with "A Sproul does (a list of what the family values were)." Note the difference between what a child's name is and who they are. Dr. Sproul taught his children that their identity was in their membership in the Sproul family and that the Sproul family had a direction and a destiny...and they were a part of it! This is what's missing in most every American family today. The sad part is that it is missing in the families who claim to be evangelicals as well.

If we are to reclaim Christian witness as well as our families, then we must change the direction of our families, and by implication, the way we raise our children. The Sproul example points out two items that have to happen if our families are to become unified points of light for the Kingdom: 1) There must be a vision; a discernible, defined direction for the family, and 2) the members of the family MUST come to understand they are not just (for example) Johnny and Susie and Joe and Pam...but that they are "Stewarts" and as such, bring their own gifts to the Stewart family in order to further the family vision.

A unified family that is focused on a Godly vision is a force to contend with when it comes to spreading the Kingdom and witnessing God's grace to the world. Now just imagine what it would be like to have groups of these types of families all together in a church! What a glorious witness that would be, and what a joy it would be to be a part of such a relationship-driven Christian community!

But it all starts with the individual family and how its members see themselves....

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