The concept of doing what someone else wants to do instead of what you want to do is something that is becoming increasingly alien in the society that we live in. Ask any sociologist and they will tell you that individualism is growing, has been growing for many years, and will in all likelihood continue to grow. This growing individualism has helped to cause changes to the shape of our relationships, our families, our education and our religions. It appears that although the attendance of religious services, most notably church services, are falling in the Western world, society is nonetheless becoming more spiritual, thanks to a surge in ‘do it your way’ religions which involve taking the elements of various faiths that you like the best and forming a worldview that suits you. Unfortunately, individualism doesn’t really work with Christianity.
I’m going to be frank, though there are a lot of things that I don’t like about postmodernism and the idea that all truth is relative, I think postmodern ideas can be useful in helping us to understand some aspects of Christianity. For example, as we’re all different people, it makes sense that God should relate to us in different ways, though for me, all those different ways exist within the boundaries of Biblical Christianity. Let me explain this a bit better; for someone who has just gone through a very difficult period in their life, the best way for God to speak with them may be through the most tender and loving Bible verses, but for someone like me, I often find that the way God makes something hit home is by being a bit tougher and leaving no room for argument.
That said, there comes a point where many modern ideas, like that of individualism, don’t work in Christianity. I think that the main reason for this is that by becoming a Christian, you are giving up the right to live your life how you want to; you start to live your life the way God wants you to. I believe this is why the line ‘Your will be done’ exists in the Lord’s prayer and personally, that’s the line that I always make sure I say in my prayers because it reminds me that I’m no longer living for myself. Now, I’m not perfect, definitely not! But the point is that as Christians, our goal should be to please God.
I saw an interview with the lead singer of a band I like, called ‘Oh, Sleeper’, and he was asked this: ‘What do you want to hear God say when you get to heaven?’ His response: ‘I want him to say, “I’m proud of you.”‘ That resonates with me. Our goal as Christians is to please God above everyone else, to do what he wants, not what our family wants, our partner wants, our friends want or what society wants. That’s the part of being a Christian that just doesn’t work with individualism and that’s part of the reason why I think that some people struggle to accept Christianity. Let’s face it, for a lot of people, the issues of science and archaeology in Christianity won’t make a whole lot of difference; what a lot of people need to know is whether or not the Christian God is a God that they can follow and that’s tough. If you follow the Christian God, you have to follow him, make him your leader and give yourself up. As Jesus said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must take up their cross daily and follow me.’
Jesus sacrificed himself for us, so to becoming his brothers and sisters, co-heirs to the Kingdom of God, it makes sense that we should also be prepared to give up everything for God. Oh, it’s tough, don’t get me wrong. If it was easy to follow God, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die at all! Jesus died so that our mistakes can be forgiven, giving us the opportunity to learn how to love God. There is no place for individualism in a faith like that.