I'm reading a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick called "Because He Loves Me." I finished chapter 11 today. She stated quite emphatically that American individualism and the yen for privacy flies in the face of true biblical fellowship. To quote her: "This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today." Her point is that the American church for the most part is as much a "tourist stop" as a church in many instances. People come for a visit on Sunday and are gone for another week. People rarely get together and share lives including struggles with sin, expected accountability and frequent confrontation and exhortation. I believe that my church is one of the rare exceptions but even it can grow in this area.
We need to have people in our lives who know our struggles and are willing to speak the radical truths of the Bible into our lives. To quote Fitzpatrick again: "Maturity in Christ does not occur because we attend Bible Studies. Maturity in Christ occurs when, by the Spirit and in God's grace, our brothers and sisters take biblical truth and apply it lovingly, patiently, boldly to our hearts." I've been a Christian for 33 years and I dare say only now do I have people in my life willing to do this. And that number is small. But I praise God for them. God calls us a family and intends for us to live like one. Our American culture esteems the "self made" man, the "rugged individualist" and other such beliefs that are simply killing orthodox Christianity. In fact, when missionaries come to the States they are often appalled. I've heard some say they wouldn't want to life here in the U.S. because the temptations are too great to be self reliant.
We need to take an account of ourselves with the new year looming. Are we more activity or people directed? Are there close friends with whom we could share any struggle with sin? Even the hidden ones? Are we willing to open our lives to the inspection of others? Are we willing to be so self sacrificial as to help others grow in the Lord Jesus Christ? Just what are our priorities? To be honest I fall way short. But the place to start is by confession and repentance. I am far off where I'd like to be but I can start moving in the right direction tonight. How about you?