Friday, September 23, 2005

Standing Alone

Being a golf fan, I love watching the Ryder Cup and President's Cup. These events take place in alternating years, and match the best American golfers against the best Europeans (Ryder Cup) and best international players (President's Cup). The first 3 days are team events, and then Sunday each golfer is matched against an opponent -- one on one.

Interestingly, the Americans excel in Sunday's individual matches, but struggle big-time in the team matches. And this is a pattern that goes back several years. What's up with this? Is it because American athletes are more selfish? Or could it be symptomatic of our society -- in which we exalt rugged individualism? I don't know the answer for sure. In fact, the two may be one.

What is unfortunate about it is this: I see the same thing in our churches. American Christians struggle with living in community. We honor the lone wolf who has his / her own agenda / purpose. We tend to respect (especially in the recent past) that person who is in everyone's face -- defending "soundness." Wow!

Result: Fractured fellowships. Lack of trust. Lots of individual efforts with no common goal (or vague, at best).

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! ALso, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

American golfers: LEARN THE LESSON! But also, I pray that God's church will learn it, too.


John Ross said...

What a great analogy! I appreciate your thoughts.

Beverly Ross said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beverly Ross said...

I can't get the visual of Romans 15:5-7 off my mind here - the Lord seeing us as one heart and one mouth united in the common goal of bringing Him glory. The older I get - the more I desire unity. Such a difficult concept! I pray I get to see a glimpse of it in my lifetime - I know I will see it full in heaven!

Josh Ross said...

You have hit one of my hot buttons. Under Christ, my greatest passions in ministry are for communal development, liberation, and missional living. You speak on community today, and I am grateful for your comments. A few comments come to mind while reading your blog today.
1) What hurts us in our American churches is that we speak English, and one of the greatest problems with English is that the word "You" can mean an individual, or it can be directed to a group of people. When Jesus says, "Remain in me, and I'll remain in you." He isn't speaking to an individual, but to a community. When Paul writes, "I am in the pains of childbirth, until Christ is formed in YOU." This isn't to an individual, but to a community. THE MAJORITY of "You's" in the Bible are directed to groups of people; not individuals. Paul's theology is rooted in ecclesiology, which is communal living. Like you said Dad/Rick, this is counter-cultural to the way of life in North America.
2) Churches of Christ in North American have confined the Lord's Supper to an individual act. Yet, we still call it communion. However, we have stripped "community" out of "communion." The Lord's Supper wasn't an individual act until around the 9th century. John Mark Hick's book "Come to the Table" will be paramount as we move into the 21st century. A better reading of 1 Corinthians will reveal to us that the Lord's Supper was celebrated around a table. It was a fellowship meal.
3) Christian literature today seems to focus on the phrases "Personal relationship with God" or "Intimate relationships with God." Good concepts that are alluded to in Scripture, but these are not phrases that we find in Scripture. Jesus' main message wasn't "Come into me" or "Accept me," but rather Jesus came inviting people to "Follow me."

Well, there it is. Good thoughts today that make me say "A-men."

God, please help deliverance us from many forms of North American, white, consumerism."

Fibonacci_fan said...

Hmm. Nice post.
I like your last post.
Being a part of the youth group myself, I remember wondering about God reasonings while we read that.
Chritianity is complicated... and it scary, too. I think I'm trying to hard to make it scientifically understandable... which it's not.
Bah. Oh well. Hopefully Jacob will let us talk about things like this at bible study.

Mark said...

I think I saw some "community" going on Sunday night. Seemed that there were many opinions, most served up with humility, and in the end a consensus that (while not unanimous) was respected by everyone. I did not hear a single negative word afterwards. A step in the right direction. Do you think we can now put together a team and win the President's Cup?

Rick Ross said...


I had the same feeling about the meeting Sunday night. I was proud.