This morning I read between 64.4% to 70% of Americans are fully vaccinated (the range makes me wonder if new math really works) and if I include people who are partially vaccinated the number of Americans increases to about 80% equaling about 225 hundred million people. (I used 281,421,906 as the total population figure.) Now I say this, not to start an argument but to raise the notion of cultural individualism and the difficulty it presents as I ponder the connective nature of my beliefs. How have I been influenced in understanding the notion of the Body of Christ (the Beloved) when I have been so trained to live in a culture that prioritizes individualism, independence, competition and personal achievement? (I’m guessing the daily debate blaring on the TV about vaccination and masks mandates, recommendations or requests has brought this to the surface because I’m not sure I’d give it more than passing thought.) I sank in my chair for a bit. According to an article by Charlotte Nickerson (a Harvard student) entitled “Individualistic Cultures and Behavior” she writes: “American society expresses a high degree of individualism in its law and societal values, guaranteeing, for example, freedom of speech and the right to ‘bear arms,’ in its Constitution. Americans vote at low rates and find self-definition through work. Families are relatively small and one’s close social ties are generally limited to one’s immediate family members and close friends, with a large circle of acquaintances and loose relations specific to certain activities (Putnam, 2000.)” She clearly concludes, by and large, individual liberty takes precedence over the rights of the collective. So I have to wonder, how much has cultural individualism influenced (or has it limited) my interpretation, understanding and the fruitfulness of the Body of Christ of which I choose to belong and dwell?
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12
“The body is one, although it has many parts; and all the parts of the body, though many, are still one body. And so it is with Christ.”
What is your reaction to Nickerson’s observations?
The Body of Christ, what does it mean to you?
In what ways has cultural individualism impacted your understanding of Christ’s community?
Prayer: Holy God, Help me this day to stand for love, for healing, for the good of all whom you love and for the blessing of your amazing creation. Amen