I grew up playing with Lego, so it wasn't a big ask to take my youngest son and 4 of his 8-year old friends to see the Lego Movie on Saturday. It was fun, clever and had a very catchy theme tune that got stuck in everyone's head, whether they were 8 or 41 years old! "Everything is awesome!"
The song is dripping with candy-pop irony though. "Everything is cool when you're part of a team," is the propaganda of the Lego regime seeking to keep every Lego character locked in oppressive conformity. Essentially, the message of the movie is, "You're special, break free from the conformity of community and discover your unique individuality." Of course there is some truth to that, but I'm not sure we realize that this is the Gospel of Individualism, and that it's being preached to us every day from almost every angle. I wish I could just sit and enjoy the movie.
But honestly, it is building a world-view which needs careful dismantling.
As I've begun to look at how the Trinity shapes the identity of every believer, we simply have to distinguish between Individualism and a Trinitarian view of family. We need to break free from conformity to the world's view of community as oppressive conformity, and trust God to renew our minds through the Trinity, who dwells in perfect unity and diversity, with self-giving love.
The Bible's view of the individual's life is one of a silver thread; beautiful yet fragile. Individualism's message is that the unique quality of each individual is best discovered on it's own. The Trinitarian view is that when we allow God to weave us into the tapestry of community we are stronger and
richer than when we were alone. In fact, the Bible says that we cannot truly know ourselves apart from community; that there are aspects of our souls that are obscured from us but are clear to others.
"If we have fellowship with one other we walk in the light..." (1 Jn 1:9)
Fascinating that Jesus' acid test for whether Peter loved Him, was loving Jesus' family.
"Do you love me, Peter? Then feed my sheep." (Jn 21)
Our vertical love for Christ is tested horizontally in family.
But that can sometimes be as painful as stepping barefoot on a stray piece of Lego!
It's relatively easy to love Jesus, isn't it? He's perfect and has given Himself faithfully to us. Jesus was calling Peter to extend the same grace to Jesus' flock, that had been extended to him in his failure. As John Stott said, "Loving the family of God sometimes means forgiving the inexcusable because the inexcusable has been forgiven in us."
The younger brother of Individualism is Deconstructionism - the fear of Institutions. This world view embraces community, but in a very fluid, unstructured manner. Any imposition upon the individual's freedom to come and go as he or she pleases is seen as restrictive. Again, there is a need to deconstruct
Deconstructionism through the Trinity. The perfect Family is committed to one another, has a leader and a mission. While the Bible does speak of the World-Wide Family of God of which every believer is mystically a part, it is also clear about believers belonging to local families. "To the church that meets in Priscilla's and Aquila's house." (Romans 16) These local families were committed, submitted and met daily around the preaching of scripture, prayer and the sacraments. You could be put out of one, which assumes that you were welcomed in to one too. The early church was not as fluid and disorganized as the Deconstructionists would like it to be!
Christ has reconciled us to His father and his family through his own blood, and oh what richness, when we discover the love of the Father through his family! There is nothing like it!
It is not good for man to be alone!
In Christ we have found a perfect Father, but we have also found a family,
which though imperfect, is very good.
Awesome, in fact.