Connecting with Culture
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I was listening to a BBC presenter explaining the Beatles’ role in the social revolution of the 1960s, when individualism became the guiding creed of Western society.
He recounted how they turbocharged the idea that life is ‘all about you, what you think, your personal opinion.’ But he didn’t stop there. Looking back, he said, ‘you can see how damaging that was, as well as liberating.’ I was surprised to hear a non-Christian figure in such a mainstream setting suggest individualism might have its flaws.
And of course, he’s right. The mantra of individualism is ‘trust yourself’. But what the Beatles perhaps didn’t foresee is that many of us have begun to stick another word in the middle: ‘trust only yourself’.
When pride gets mixed up with individualism, we create a cold, scary world for ourselves, where advice feels like criticism and authority feels like a threat. We lose the ability to believe strangers have our best interests at heart, or that experts know better than us. To defend our pride we retreat into tribes, deepening our sense that ‘other people’ aren’t just misguided but dangerous.
The end result is the wave of social distrust that’s sweeping Western society. We see it in the bin fire of US partisanship; in the strife between leavers and remainers; even in supermarkets having to ban those who refuse to protect others with masks.
How do we begin to redirect a current this strong?
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul offers a very different view of the individual’s role in God’s kingdom. ‘God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be… The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”’
He invites the Corinthians to delight in their unique, God-given identities. But he also calls them to value the same thing in others, specifically rejecting attempts by any one group to scorn those they believe are inferior.
In other words, trust is only possible when we’re humble before others. Paul is writing to the church, but as whole-life disciples this kingdom model should inform how we interact with everyone, Christian or not.
Maybe that means listening carefully to differing opinions. Or closing the app instead of leaving a vitriolic comment. Because when we drop our pride and choose to see the value in others, we can rebuild trust – one frontline at a time.
Marketing & Editorial Lead, LICC