Wednesday, December 11, 2013



Individuality

Individuality is the hard outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life. Individuality shoves others aside, separating and isolating people. We see it as the primary characteristic of a child, and rightly so. When we confuse individuality with the spiritual life, we remain isolated. This shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering designed to protect the spiritual life. But our individuality must be yielded to God so that our spiritual life may be brought forth into fellowship with Him. Individuality counterfeits spirituality, just as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself, but individuality corrupts that human nature for its own purposes.
The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-will. We hinder our spiritual growth more than any other way by continually asserting our individuality. If you say, “I can’t believe,” it is because your individuality is blocking the way; individuality can never believe. But our spirit cannot help believing. Watch yourself closely when the Spirit of God is at work in you. He pushes you to the limits of your individuality where a choice must be made. The choice is either to say, “I will not surrender,” or to surrender, breaking the hard shell of individuality, which allows the spiritual life to emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (see Matthew 5:23-24). It is your individuality that refuses to “be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “. . . let him deny himself . . .”— deny his independent right to himself. Then the real life-the spiritual life-is allowed the opportunity to grow.

~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

6 comments:

  1. According to John Milton's Paradise Lost, happiness, fulfillment, and righteousness result from submission to the will of the Lord, particularly the will of the Lord as it applies in our own lives.

    I suspect that Milton would be horrified at the individualism of today even though we indeed find salvation as individuals as opposed to as groups.

    As for being reconciled to our brother, I believe that we cannot communicate effectively with the Lord when we hold grudges. We cannot grow spiritually if we cannot communicate with the Lord, as He is the Father of all good things.

    The above said, often there is nothing easy about reconciliation with one's brother. Furthermore, sometimes even the best attempts at reconciliation can be spurned.

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  2. Seems to me he conflates individualism and selfishness.

    I don't see how Chambers is different than the Buddha. I certainly do not believe he is wiser.

    Once God becomes the source of all thing, good and evil, matters change.

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  3. Wanna know what the "opposite" of "The Individual" is?

    The Pervert imagines him-/herself to be the Other in order to ensure his/her jouissance. The perverse subject makes him-/herself the instrument of the Other's jouissance through putting the object a in the place of the barred Other, negating the Other as subject. His/her jouissance comes from placing him-/herself as an object in order to procure the jouissance of a phallus, even though he/she doesn't know to whom this phallus belongs. Although the pervert presents him-/herself as completely engaged in seeking jouissance, one of his/her aims is to make the law present. Lacan uses the term père-version, to demonstrate the way in which the pervert appeals to the father to fulfil the paternal function.

    -Slavoj Zizek

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  4. The virtue and personal value of "Dying to Self "has always been a central tenet of the Christian Ethos.

    What that might mean exactly has been the subject of much debate among theologians and scholars for many centuries.

    From personal experience I have come to understand that we do not begin to discover who we really are as individuals, and have little useful strength, until we begin to understand that putting the feelings and needs of others -- within our immediate sphere of influence -- ahead of our own selfish desires is the best -- the only -- way we might hope to fulfill ourselves.

    Making sacrifices for the sake of others does NOT mean that we must weaken our position and impoverish ourselves and join the mob of mendicants. Instead it means we would do well to share what we have as generously, wholeheartedly -- and wisely -- as possible.

    Any form of suicide be it physical, economic or a retreat into insanity is an act of consummate selfishness, because it deprives the one who commits such an atrocity of the possibility of doing anyone any good whatsoever -- including himself.

    Self-immolation or self-sacrifice is the absolute ANTITHESIS of SUICIDE or willfully destroying one's hold on prosperity.

    "If you would have your life, you must be willing to lose it."

    Sitting on the sidelines and sneering at those who appear less-than-perfect to one's jaundiced, self-righteous, cynical, puffed up gaze is more despicable that riotous living in the fleshpots.

    Making a Holy Show of how much one sacrifices for others is equally despicable. In fact nothing is more ungodly than showy self-righteousness, because it exemplifies the Deadly Sin of Pride.

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  5. Yes, FT, it isn't the act of giving up everything you have, but rather your willingness to do it for a purpose you recognize as higher than your own self-advancement. The Golden Rule is all it is. Do for others what you wish they'd do for you.

    Helen Highwater

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  6. Thank you, Helen. I think your interpretation is correct.

    I do understand Ducky's point, however. (Sorry to mention it so belatedly!)

    I believe our uniqueness is a miraculous, absolutely vital part of who we are, however, the Paradox of Existence is perfectly stated in the Scriptures:

    If you would have your life (your true individuality, your unique value) you must be willing to lose it for a purpose greater and nobler than yourself.

    Shaw put it this way:


    "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you're thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

    ~ G. B. Shaw (1856-1950)

    Shaw my have considered himself an atheist and a socialist, and all that bothersome twaddle, but his powerful genius and innate sensitivity to the highest, most important aspects of human achievement made him a most godly man almost in spite of himself. One of the many subtle proofs that God does, indeed, have a sense of humor.

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