Solomon wrote, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.”
This verse has often been used to ridicule the “lone ranger Christian” who abandons the “fellowship” of the “church.” It is most often used as a means to “encourage” and renew that one’s “church” membership and attendance and, more importantly, financial contributions. But there is a deeper application that lies virtually untouched because it lies at the heart of our self image (both who we really are and how we see ourselves) our motivations behind much of our life’s activities.
The American is especially (perhaps somewhat stereotypically) seen as a rugged individualist. This is the philosophy upon which the country was founded and which has produced some of its saving attributes on many occasions. The routine actions of American individuals acting heroically and wisely (at times even against direct orders) throughout World War II stand in stark contrast to Nazi Germany’s socialistic, top-heavy authority structure (which, for example, because top leaders were inaccessible, the military was unable to move its tank battalions and stop the Allied invasion of Normandy) and demonstrate the value of individualism – and this is but one example. Much of life in historic America has required people to do everything for and by themselves. The “nanny state” of America, where suddenly so many Americans want and need the government’s help (some of which is media hype and fiction), is a recent phenomenon.
The genuine Christian is indeed called to exercise his individual giftings and unique personality traits to the best of his God-given abilities. But the genuine Christian is also called to be a submissive, interactive part of Christ’s body. Only when the follower of Christ begins to use his individual liberties to indulge some part of his fallen, sin, flesh nature will there be any conflict between the agendas and responsibilities of being both an individual in Christ and a member of His corporate body.
The man who chooses to gratify his flesh – whether that be to maintain a sinful relationship, to practice one’s own favored style of assembly or to gain material wealth or goods for one’s own benefit or reasons – is one who is separating himself from the body of Christ. He is raging against all wise judgment because he childishly and selfishly wants something his own way. Yet even if he were to gain it – or even the whole world – since the price will be his own soul, the outcome is sorrowful indeed.
Particularly in the American culture, the one who recognizes his inability to “go it alone” and tries to find others who will help meet his need for help and comfort from the body of Christ is often forced to look to either a “church” (whereby the demonic who operates behind the scenes can regain its deceptive hold over that one) or to withdraw into the wilderness and commune alone with and rely only upon the Lord. This one is often misunderstood, ridiculed and persecuted and, very often, the one to whom this verse is misapplied. Yes, the one who recognizes his need for the assistance of others in the body of Christ will be criticized and even ostracized for his “poverty.” Reasons for this one’s “lack of God’s blessings” will be manufactured and even accusations of his being under “God’s judgment” will be leveled at this one – just because God decided that this man should have some lack which his loving brothers and sisters could easily serve and satisfy if they would just obey God and love their brother instead of judging and avoiding him! But yet it is also true that the man in the wilderness with the true God is far from alone or isolated – he has chosen to pursue God and his reward will someday be even greater than any suffering he has endured.
Rather, it is the ones who refuse to relinquish their own life – those who live in the isolation best found in a crowd of anonymous faces (such as a mega-“church” affords) – to whom this verse most accurately applies. The ones who refuse to live their lives in the balance of individual liberty and obedience confirmed by unity within the genuine corporate body of Christ are those who have stepped away from the narrowing road that leads to life and have reentered the broad path that leads to destruction. The man who will not submit his life and actions for review and inspection (the true “lone ranger Christian”) to those whom he knows to walk in Christ is headed for a serious fall – if not in this life, his fall will be all the worse on judgment day.
The genuine follower of Christ must walk in both personal obedience and corporate unity with other genuine followers or else his “Christianity” is yet only one more version of “church,” the great apostasy (falling away from the faith) that occurs just before Christ’s return.
Let he who has ears hear.
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