Matthew Hosier
'Who Am I?' Study Notes 4

Gospel Identity 4: From Individuals to Family Members

Alongside being a consumer society, we are a society that celebrates the individual. The benefits of this are obvious in that we all have personal rights and opportunities. The flip side is that we are encouraged to think selfishly, and more about ourselves than the common good – we suffer from individualitis! The gospel corrects this imbalance as it enables us to see that we are not just autonomous beings, but members of a family with all the privileges and responsibilities that brings.

Individuals free themselves from being needed and counted on by others. They don’t look for help from others because they don’t rely on others. They have no concerns but their own. They value ‘doing’ over ‘relating’. Relationships are optional or even unnecessary.

The antidote to individualitis is the gospel!

Through the gospel we become God’s children, which makes us family. We all belong and extend the acceptance and love we’ve received to each other.

Scriptures to meditate on:

John 13:34-35
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 12:7
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

Ephesians 2:19
"You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."

Galatians 6:10
"As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Hebrews 10:24-25
"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

1 John 5:1
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him."

Case Study: The gospel and the Lone Ranger’s heart

When Frank Sinatra sang,

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way...

he summed up and defined the spirit of the age. I did it my way goes unchallenged as the way modern people are meant to live: but it is challenged by the gospel!

Christianity is not about ‘being true to yourself’, but dying to yourself – and it is only by doing this that we truly find ourselves! Jesus said:

Luke 9:23-25 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

This is very different from the gospel of Frank Sinatra! Rather than being Lone Rangers the gospel of Jesus Christ pulls us into relationship with His people. We are freed from the terrible burden of thinking we have to do it all our own way, and learn to live as a member of the family. We start doing things Jesus’ way, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters.

New Attitudes & Practices to Cultivate

Discuss together how you might increasingly move away from ‘individualitis’ and towards fully functioning family membership:

·       Actively participating in weekly worship gatherings with the people of your church.

·       Actively pursuing meaningful relationships with other believers in your church.

·       Fighting for unity within the church by resolving conflict biblically.

·       Refusing to walk in unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment towards others.

·       Having several Christians who have permission to speak honestly into your life about anything           and who you can be honest with, confess sin and ask for help.

·       Actively using your time, gifts and resources to serve the people in your church.