You are special…sort of

We have all heard the phrase, “You are a special creation of God,” yet how much damage can such a statement foster within the age of individualism?

Sure, God has created us as unique beings, no two alike, but individualism has distorted this truth, expanding its intent. As we are created in a unique fashion, we are also created for community. This need for “otherness” is built into the very fiber of our being…the DNA of our spirit.

As stated in the creation story, Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in Our image, in Our likeness.” The phrase “in Our image” indicates we are made as a reflection of God, a reflection of the divine interdependency found in the community of the Father/Son/Holy Spirit.

Yet within Christianity has this theological truth been shattered? Have we bought into the American ideal of freedom and individualism to the point where we see “real” spiritual development has an emphasis on felt need and a “between you and God” mentality? (the fallacy of spiritual disciplines…though good, they are not the grid for growth.)

Why do we think the “real” growth happens privately instead of in the midst of the interdependence on others? It is almost as if we reflect the American image of self-made indiviualists who find pride in the ability to take care of ourselves.

Remember Satan’s tempting words in the Garden, “You will be like God” (Gen 3:5). This was the shift in human kind from dependency towards independence.

As we approach the 4th of July, allow us to be careful in not going too far in embracing our deep rooted values to independence and freedom, to the point where we bask in our individualism and self-centeredness.

Though we may have pride in our meismovertime we will echo the words of Daniel Defoe, from his book Robinson Crusoe:

“I am cast upon a horrible, desolate island, void of all hope of recovery. I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable. I am divided from mankind, a solitary; one banished from human society. I have no soul to speak to or to relieve me.”

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~ by Dave Smith on June 27, 2008.

4 Responses to “You are special…sort of”

  1. In our culture…dependency is a sign of weakness and being independent is the ultimate virtue.

    This is true not just in personal relationships, but in business structures (e.g. independent audits), government (e.g. independent voters), educational institutions (e.g. homeschooling), churches (e.g. non-denominational), etc.

    Because America is a Christian nation (allegedly), we’ve made our cultures highest virtue – independence – synomyous with the biblical notion of freedom.

    This has confused the idea of a personal faith vs. a private faith…this gives us the pleasure of self-styling matters of life and faith…and allows us to escape the pain of allowing others to see the real faith in “me”.

  2. Good point. Individualism can distort the Christian doctrines of creation in God’s image, Christian freedom to be sure.

    In a related way, this doctrine can also be hijacked to justify all sorts of abuse of the rest of creation. That is, if we are created in God’s image to lord over creation, why should we be overly concerned about protecting it?

    One small exegetical squabble: I’m not convinced the “our” in Gen. 1:26 refers to the Trinity. A lot of contemporary biblical scholars would argue this “our” refers to the “divine counsel,” which pops up in other places in the OT as well, and shows up in these places because of the strong pantheism of the ANE — to which Israel was not completely immune.

    Your points don’t stand or fall on this squabble, but what’s a blog without some dissent?

  3. Really well said to both of you. A good film on this that I recently view was “Into the Wild.” A great picture of having sound desires to shed cultural poison, but the danger of including people within that.

    A video a watched today that brings the issue of community to light was also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j24mKZQAfmo

    Good call on the “our” issue Ben. We have been bringing that up lately when we licensed pastors having them use other passages to show the Trinity in light of this new research. I personally haven’t read up on any of it yet, and trust those that are raising the cautions…but “old habits are hard to break.” Probably better to use Jesus’ baptism as a “safe” example.

  4. Read the book – Into the Wild – fascinating.

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