Individualism 2.0: Uniqueness

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”— Matthew 18:20

unique“You’re one of a kind!” Such a sentiment can be taken as either a compliment or insult. This singling out walks a fine line between individual praise or bullying. What’s more is that being an individual isn’t enough. Yes, we still hear individualism being promoted but it’s not necessarily what you think. When the world advocates for individualism they are really seeking what is unique. Anything common is out, and the unique is in.

Consider the shift in news anchoring within this past decade (or more). For a time to become a Walter Cronkite, a national and revered news anchor, meant you made it! Now you find Barbara Walters on The View, Julie Chen on The Talk, Anderson Cooper has his own show, as does Katie Couric. Brian Williams has Nightly News, did a stint with his own Rock Center, and regularly appears on such shows as SNL and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. What each of these persons have in common is what they don’t have in common! Their personalities are being marketed, not their journalism or objectivity. It’s hard to NOT know where a news personality stands anymore, and to this end some of the above took their “star power” where it could be showcased. To put it bluntly, too many news personalities have taken their yellow journalism from behind a desk and now sell it from a couch. And we eat it up, because like sex, unique sells!

There’s a kind of yellow journalism within Christian churches. Mostly in the protestant tradition, these churches promote testimonials and passionate stories of conversion, or triumph in the face of spiritual despair. We however miss the danger that comes with the pervasiveness of such “unique-ism”. Some believe telling their story is a personal mission and they must share it with whomever they meet. I don’t want to downplay the importance of such testimony or conversion, I have my own to tell, but my story isn’t what matters! It is the story of Jesus Christ! Yellow journalism promotes a subjective view under the mask of objectivity. This is simply smoke and mirrors. When anyone; a news anchor, a talk show host, someone who testifies about their conversion, or even myself gives his two cents about anything, it’s important to ask two clarifying questions. 1) Does this statement have its foundation in God’s Word? And, 2) What would God’s Word have me believe, know, and confess concerning this statement? This is how the liturgy functions– to give us God’s Word, that it might be believed, known, and confessed! I mentioned earlier that the only thing a unique person has in common with another unique person is what they don’t have in common. The Christian Church however, thrives upon commonality not personalities –not mine, not yours. Our common ground then for the Church and her liturgies is Jesus.
When Jesus becomes who we want him to be; be him indifferent to sexuality, one path to God among many, or someone other than what his Word says, we become pervasive pundits of “unique-ism,” individualism 2.0. It isn’t individualistic doctrines or a unique character that gather us together it is our commonality in the true and faithful words of Christ! Let the liturgy of our lives in concert with the worship of our Lord forever pray, “For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and the unity of all…(DS II, LSB, p. 168).”
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