Me or We? The Challenge of Looking Beyond Ourselves

I love me phrase handwritten on blackboard

Water. We have no trouble explaining or describing water. We buy it, drink it, swim in it, and the list goes on. What about a fish? How would a fish explain water? It seems evident that fish take water for granted. For water defines a fish’s very existence like air in our environment. Why am I writing about fish and water? Because, as water is taken for granted by fish, we often take the values of our culture for granted. It just happens.

In fact, social psychologists who study sales and marketing strategies differentiate between cultures classified as individualistic or collectivist. Marketing strategies for an individualistic culture like America focus on benefits to the individual while collectivist cultures emphasize the collective good or the good of the whole community.

Clearly, America is driven by an individualistic mindset. In everything, we are so often concerned for ourselves. What impact does this have on me? What benefit do I get? It is strange in our culture to ask the kinds of questions that a collectivist culture might ask. How does this impact others? What effect will my decision have on the community or the group as a whole? These are the very questions that Christians are called to ask; just consider the example of the early church as seen in the book of Acts.

Like a fish doesn’t recognize water or think much about it, we simply don’t realize how much our culture influences our perspectives. While we live in this individualistic culture, as believers we must allow God’s Word to change our thinking and attitudes. Instead of thinking primarily of ourselves, we must think of others. We must be concerned for the good of the church family.

What about you? Will your attitudes be shaped by our culture or by God’s Word? Will you give your time and energy to contribute to the good of the whole or will you be dominated by this individualistic “what’s in it for me” mindset? May we be a community of believers who sacrifices for the good of others, the whole church, and ultimately for the glory of God!