Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cult of the Rugged Individualist

Individualism is the so-called fabric of the American Dream. The personal drive and fortitude to overcome life's obstacles and attain victory in spite of circumstances. It is about survival.

Many years ago in an NBA All-star game, Charles Barclay recovered a rebound, and did what he always did in that circumstance. He grasped the ball with both hands, holding it close to his chest, extended his elbows outward and rotated his upper body back and forth to create an area around him so that opposing players could not take the ball away. This is accepted practice in regular season play, however, in an All-star game, playing with the elite of the league, and being conscious of the injury that could have resulted from this type of play, this was not an acceptable style of action. Rugged individualism does not play well with others. Individualism is all elbows, it separates and isolates. It works without reference to the impact upon others. It is the personal beliefs and values of the individual placed above the collective good that can be achieved by community. The individual is alienated from God and people by this way-of-life and its promotion as the foundational structure for the success of either the individual or society as a whole. They operate in a context of independence and self-assertiveness contrary to the acceptable norms of healthy societal behaviour. In that realization we see the attitude of the individual, in that it does not matter to them, and in this there lies the hindrances to surrender, the stumbling blocks to faith, trust, belief, the lack of acceptance of the need for fellowship, the lack of acceptance of the need for corporate assistance, the lack of understanding of the need for community, the awareness of their need to give from their resources to others for the benefit of their community. What is missing is the fostering of the need for leadership, the nurturing of the person through mentoring, the cultivation of the individual through accountability, the growth of the person through guardianship, reconciliation, accordance, and controversy. They miss the need for themselves to extend into, to provide for, to invest in, to secure for, to clothe, to envelop those around them and be blessed by the outward extension of their wealth (in what ever form that is).

Rugged individualism will not unite. It will not suffer itself to be joined with others, because that would imply the giving of up its rights and privileges, and acquiescing to dependence and reliance, a forfeiting of the heart, a compliance of the will and in this the individual feels they will lose all without any gain.

Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

The rugged individual has no understanding of the concept of grace. A gift is used in the context of exchange, a treaty, the condition of future and current operation, surrender, atonement, it has no place in the mindset as a free, without recompense required, voluntary service or given advantage. Grace extended is misunderstood because the context of non-forced giving is an alien thought to the individual.

The rugged individual understands discipline, sacrifice in attaining goals, the exploitation of weakness, the forceful resignation of mind, body or spirit to a more powerful entity. The gift of grace is non-sensical, an absurd distortion of the primal laws of survival. There has to be a catch, the promotion of an advantage at the sole expense of the giver is contrary to the basic premises of existence. That existence includes the responsible and stewardly management of resources with the object of personal gain and superiority being its primary purpose. The gift of grace flys in the face of the logical, accepted, required norms established through years of hardship, arduous striving, and personal attentive detail expended to achieve success.

The rugged individualist does not feel the need for God. The self-made man requires nothing but opportunity, and given opportunity he will show what is the heart and resolute will of the man to be the all-in-all and succeed. We see this promoted throughout society, via news media, films, TV shows and history.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

The idea of self-denial exists within the rugged individual, although it is distorted by its primary motivation (survival & gain). Even in that we see the favourable circumstance for the possibility of the built-in, heroic, mind-set evidenced in the design of man to accept the conditions imposed upon him when his understanding of a need for the intervention of a higher power to ensure the eternal existence or survival of the individual is awakened.
Job 9:33 Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.

If a man should gain the whole world, its riches, honors, and pleasures, and lose his life, what would all these profit him, seeing they can only be enjoyed during life? But if the words be applied to the soul, they show the difficulty—the necessity—and importance of salvation. The world, the devil, and a man’s own heart are opposed to his salvation; therefore it is difficult. The soul was made for God, and can never be united to him, nor be happy, till saved from sin: therefore it is necessary.

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