<<uniqueness, self-centred activity>>

This is expressed as independence, self-reliance and freedom of personal actions through initiative and creativity as opposed to regulations or external control and interference. Modern Western society has exploited this personal freedom of a person’s own changeable fleshly desires rather than the timeless principles of Scripture, the standards set by God for humanity’s benefit. It is a case of “Everyone doing what is right in his or her own eyes”, with everyone being their own little god, doing what is best for them (Deut 12:8; Jdg 17:6). Self-pleasure is often the sole focus. Individualism is characterized by statements such as, ‘I will do what I like, when I like. What right has anyone to tell me what to do?’ This freedom has come at the cost of traditional family ties, social cohesion and recognised values, including the stability and security of family life with every facet of life being challenged by personal rights.

The dangers of doing Christianity alone

While there should be freedom of expression and views this should be within the boundaries of Scriptural principles and God's non-negotiable commands. For the Christian it is not about our wants and views, as we must be in submission to the Lord, as echoed by His words “Not my will but yours be done” (Mt 26:39). The selfish attitudes

It should not be what I want, rather what He wants

of the flesh are to be put to death, as we are to be self-controlled, “to live lives worthy of God”, and do what is honourable for our fellow man (Rom 8:5-15; Eph 4:22-24; Tit 2:12). Although free to be ourselves ‘in God’ we must be obedient to Him, then submit to the authority of those and maintain a wholesome connection to others.

A ‘lone ranger Christian’ professes faith in Christ yet chooses not to be a member of any body of believers. This lifestyle is not supported by the early church or the biblical understanding of who a Christian is (Act 2:1,42, 4:23,32…). The church (local and worldwide) comprises those who have a common relationship with Christ as Saviour and seek to follow His instructions. In a physical body there are numerous parts that are all needed and contribute for the whole to function as God designed so it is in the church where all believers are united in Christ and form part of the spiritual family where the Holy Spirit wants to bind us together in an interdependent responsible and spiritually healthy community (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:7,12,27; Eph 4:7,12,16). While we have individual expressions and callings within this worldwide family we are to co-operate and work together as we fulfill the great commission to reach the world with the gospel (Mt 28:19,20).

The spiritually unhealthy attributes of those who want to dis-associate from other believers include:

* Selfishness keeps them from giving, not willing to share or invest their specific God-given giftings for the benefit of others; they are inward focused not outward focused. Jesus gave a parable about those who are rewarded

Extreme individuality reflects wrong attitudes

for the wise and good use of what they had been entrusted with, while there is condemnation for the one who neither honoured his master or what he had been given the stewardship of (Lk 19:11-27).

* Pride keeps them from receiving. Such a person infers ‘I don’t need anyone contributing to my life, I can make it without help’. Yet the Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6).

* Rebellion. Believers are to maintain a personal intimacy with Christ and from that vital connection, fruit is produced (Jn 15:1-7). We are instructed not to neglect the corporate gathering together with Him and His other children, for it here we can also encourage each other in living for Christ (Heb 10:24,25). Christ said, “if you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). Obedience proves love, disobedience proves rebellion. Those who claim to love Jesus will love His people and desire to be with them.

* Lack of self-denial. The church is full of sinful people (just like us!) who have been saved by grace, yet they also are work in progress so it is not always easy to love them as they can irritate and disappoint. Self-denial is a characteristic of those who follow Jesus and we are to imitate His example of expending our life for others (Lk 9:23; Jn 15:13).

* Failure to submit to church authority and to follow others. They claim they are answerable only to God. But their refusal to submit to others for the sake of Christ means that in reality they are accountable to no one – not even God (Eph 5:21; 1 Pet 5:5). Having been deeply hurt they are not willing to address the issues and so cut themselves off from those who can actually help minister the healing of Christ they desperately need.

* They value their personal experience and beliefs more than Scripture, or historic Christian orthodoxy and so are in deception. Without being in honest accountability to others who can lovingly point out any errors from the Scriptures, their understanding can easily get distorted and they live in deception.

Their extreme independence is often accompanied by a sad loneliness, for the person who walks alone will at the end of it all be found alone – away from Jesus and His people. Just as a solitary headstrong sheep is easy pickings for predators, so are those who try to go it alone (1 Pet 5:8). A

We need support to survive

glowing ember from the fire soon goes out unless it gives and receives from others in a mutually beneficial setting.

While sometimes we must stand alone from the crowd, we must ensure the reason is legitimate and confirmed by Scripture and not just our fleshly opinion. Our walk with God in one sense is between Him and us in the secret place where our spirit is nourished, yet it is outworked in relationship with others in all areas of life.

See also: accountability, body of Christ, boundaries, dependence, individual, independence, loneliness, outward focused, relationships, self, self-denial, self-fulfilment, self-pleasure, standards, submission, unity, unsurrendered.