Page 11 - February 2018 - Truth & Tidings
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assembly is not helping me to develop   not change the Scriptural standard.
        my usefulness, then I must seek to find   In conclusion, the worldview which
        another outlet to express and develop it.   places the individual at the center of his
        The main thing is that I have to develop my   own universe is contrary to the Scriptures
        usefulness and any hindrance, such as lack   in several critical ways. We were made
        of discernment on the part of leadership,   to be God-centered beings. This was lost
        justifies my action.                 in the fall but has been regained and re-
          Innate to all this is a paradigm as old as   stored in redemption. In this new creation,
        the universe: the end justifies the means.   “Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11, KJV). I
        If it works and benefits me then it is right.   bear responsibility for my actions and my
        If it does not benefit me, then it is wrong.   life, but I do not control my life. I yield to
        No thought is given to whether an action is   the claims of Lordship.
        Scriptural. Its ethic is anchored to its result.   In the Scriptures, the end never justifies
        Forgotten is the admonition that Paul gave   the means. Righteous deeds must be done
        to Timothy: “And if a man also strive for   in righteous ways. God is vitally interested
        masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he   in the man (or woman) and not just the
        strive lawfully” (2Tim 2:5, KJV). God has   ministry. Paul’s claim to be “all things to all
        not bought into the results-oriented men-  men” (1Cor 9:22, KJV) was the relinquish-
        tality which controls much of our thinking.   ing of liberties, not the arrogant seizing of
        He is vitally concerned with the means as   license. We must strive to be not only good,
        well as the end. We should long for results   but faithful servants – faithful to divine
        – from our gospel work, ministry, and   principles (Matt 25:21).
        teaching – but Scriptural principles must   Expressive individualism places me at
        never be sacrificed upon the altar of results.   the center of the assembly and makes my
          Of course, individualism collides head-  needs and fulfillment the criteria for the
        on with biblical ethics when we turn to   gathering. In contrast, the New Testament
        the realm of relationships. It is here that   stresses the centrality of Christ. Every
        the most obvious and greatest divergence   metaphor employed for a local community
        occurs. The essence of a believer’s life is a   of believers emphasizes that an assembly
        Christ-centered, and not a self-centered   exists for God: His pleasure, honor, habita-
        life, but the believer’s love for, and devo-  tion, and glory. My focus is totally wrong
        tion to Christ, are expressed by how we   unless I see its true purpose.
        treat others. We are exhorted in Philippians   Finally, I will fail in the scripturally
        2 to develop a Christ-like attitude and to   mandated ministry to others if I view my
        esteem the welfare of others above our   needs as more important than those of fel-
        own (Phil 2:3). Our interests are to expand   low believers. I may even view others as a
        beyond the narrow confines of our own   means to fulfill my needs and further my
        brief existence and to “look on the things   goals. I then begin to manipulate others
        of others” (v4, KJV).                rather than to minister to them.
          Whether I read in Romans 12, Philip-  If I live by the worldview of individual-
        pians 2, Colossians 3, or a myriad of other   ism, I will live in a small universe, leave a
        places, my life is intended to be a blessing   smaller impact on others for God, make an
        to others, placing their interests above my   even smaller contribution to the assembly,
        own. I may fail miserably in this; it does   and reflect no likeness to Christ.

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