We are Blog – Resistance is Futile

I suppose the best place to start this reboot is with my own experiences. Write what you know, right? Instead of trying to create some sort of scholarly paper, since I am not a scholar, it may be more appropriate to write about applying apologetic principles to my own life. After all, I am a firm believer that God puts you where He wants you, and you are supposed to “bloom where you are planted” as Greg Koukl says.

So here goes.


 

At the moment I have one issue that is causing me the most trouble at this point in my life. The church is by definition a group, while as an introvert I am much more comfortable by myself. There are different kinds of introverts, some more outgoing and gregarious than others. I happen to be of the shy variety, which makes some of the common parts of any worship service akin to mild psychological torture.

So should I keep trying?

Isn’t it OK to be a Christian and not go to church?

Not really. The Bible has many passages that speak about the need to be part of a body of believers, such as Hebrews 10:24-25, Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 4:11-16, Acts 2:42. In fact, the idea of being without a group was a foreign concept in the times and locations of the Bible.

I didn’t realize the depth of that attitude until recently learning about the principle of hermeneutics. This gave me a great tool for getting more of the original meaning from scripture. Although the Bible is written for us, it is not written too us. To get the most understanding from a particular passage you need to understand the audience it was written to; where and when they lived, gentile or jew, educated or not, cultural teachings and traditions, their people’s history, political circumstances, on and on and on. You can get usually get the general meaning without doing this, but you will always miss the nuances, and sometimes you can miss the full meaning.

A book called “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” was very… well… eye-opening. In the mind of a westerner the whole foundation of identity is based on the individual. We never think of how that affects our conclusions and biases. It is almost instinctual. In the world of the Bible the group was everything. If you didn’t belong to a strong group you were nothing.

Take for instance the account of Korah and his rebellion in Numbers 16. In it the ground opens up and swallows an entire family and all of their possessions, completely wiping them from the earth. I used to think it was unfair for the women and children to suffer this, after all, wasn’t it a strong patriarchy? Weren’t they just following the orders from the man in the house?

Not that simple.

Korah’s family members weren’t there just because they were ordered to be. They were standing as a group, presenting a united front for this rebellion. It’s not that they couldn’t think for themselves, it was a wholly different mindset. No one would act on the matter until there was a consensus among the group members, and once that consensus was reached everyone in the group would openly support it. It wasn’t so much of a rule they followed, it was how they thought.

That’s so different than how we think. When have you ever actually seen a group acting this way? We have a lot of tribalism in America, from churches to sports fans to politics, but we rarely see the type of cohesion that would have been commonplace among the ancient easterners.

As we have seen the Bible does give some instruction on the importance of being connected to a body of believers, but does not spend a large amount of time on it, in large part because it was not only common knowledge but common nature at the time.

We are designed for groups. This seems to be a truth about human nature you can observe in the Bible. Unlike the governmental laws or holiness codes that so many are fond of making fun of, this is something that is about how we are built, a source of strength for all people at all times.

I can see more aspects of this thought already, especially how it relates to introverts. I will try to explore this topic more in future posts. Maybe I can turn this into some sort of series. We’ll see.


 

As for now, thanks for sitting through this with me. I welcome comments and suggestions, as long as they aren’t from the “zombie Jewish carpenter” camp.

 

Where am I wrong? What did I miss? Let me know.

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