Whatever our view of the world, it is hard to dispute the fact that our culture today is very different from that of the past. In particular we seem to have lost much of the concept of community, and replaced it with a model based around the individual. Indeed we seem to have become obsessed with the idea of what’s best for us as individuals, and how we can maintain and uphold our own individual rights.
Of course there has never been a time when some individuals haven’t promoted their own wants and desires above the needs of the community. But in the 21st century this has become much more pronounced. As a consequence, we live in a society which seems to be constantly telling us what we need to do as individuals to be ahead of the game, and what we need to do in order for our personal rights to be upheld. Furthermore the “What’s in it for me?” attitude is actively encouraged. So for example at election time, there is a distinct element of “sweeteners” – things to our own personal advantage – if only we would vote in a particular way.
In many ways the phrases “I want this,” “I deserve that,” and “What’s in it for me?” have become the catchphrases of the society to which we belong – where the emphasis is on the individual, not on the community. And that is in striking contrast with the kind of community in which God intended us to live.
Indeed, from a biblical perspective, what God intended was that we should live together, helping one another out. He provided a system with two common beliefs. Firstly, that God should be the central focus of the community (Commandments 1-4); and, secondly, that everyone should be actively involved in promoting the health and welfare of the community (Commandments 5-10). The idea was that we are to be involved and committed to the worship of God, and encouraging and building up others in the faith, whilst actively pursuing unity within the community, and making it possible for weaker members to participate in as full a way as possible.
In other words God’s society was (and is) not about “What I want” or “What I deserve” or “What my rights are”. But it is about everyone coming together, and helping and encouraging one another. The two systems couldn’t be more different.
So for example, God’s idea of society involves the need for the community to uphold the sanctity of life. (And from God’s perspective life begins at (or before) conception.) Whereas our society (depending upon the jurisdiction) allows for the termination of the unborn, the freezing of fertilised eggs, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia.
From God’s perspective the family unit (man, woman and offspring) is the basic structure of a healthy community. Yet our society seems quite happy to flaunt God’s standards, by promoting a more casual view of sexual relationships, and challenging the basic premise of the family unit.
The reason for the differences, of course, is that our society does not have, or want, God as its central focus. People are uncomfortable living by God’s standards. So much so that they have not only needed to reinvent him, but remodel his design too. But what that has done is to create a society that is godless, and splintered. We have forgotten that God gave his laws and his principles for living for a reason, and that we need God’s laws and principles in order to have those healthy relationships that we need so much.
When a problem is discovered, today, it is often said that we have the intelligence, ability, and wisdom to fix it. But if we can’t put God first, and live together as God intended, how can that be true? If we can’t get the basics right, then all we do is to compound the problem, not solve it. Indeed pretending that we know better does not solve anything.
Without God we lose the sanctity of life. Without God we lose the family unit. Without God we lose the community on which we need to depend. And without God all we are left with is the delusion that we can fix anything.
To fix the problems of the world our society needs to make a fundamental shift. It needs to move away from the “I” and become a “We” society. And it needs to put God first, not us. That doesn’t mean that we should lose all of our individual differences, but it does mean that we should use all the gifts and talents that he has given each of us for the common good.
The principles for a healthy community cannot be tampered with, without dire consequences. We need the one’s God set out. We need to get our relationship with him sorted out, so that we can begin to live in a healthy community. Get God’s principles right (and none of us are perfect), and we will then begin to know and understand what life is truly all about.
Posted: 24th January 2016
© 2016, Brian A Curtis