Hyper-Individualism: A tendency for people to act in a highly individual way, without regard to others around them.
Different cultures have different core values.
If you travel much you already know this. Visit parts of Africa or China on a business trip or a short-term missions trip and you may see nothing more than a few odd differences in how they do life. Live there as a long-term resident and you will begin to see the different underlying values behind these odd cultural differences.
Some cultures value honor, where respect is the prime directive. Some cultures value community. The health of the “tribe” is vastly more important than one person. Individuals in other cultures may see it as noble and honorable to sacrifice time, talent, treasure, and even desired pleasures for the health of the community or honor of the family.
Here in America we have an underlying growing value that stands out like the Dubai Tower. Individualism.
When ESPN celebrated Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner after undergoing a sex change, the message was clear, laid out for the Western world to see: Courage is being true to you, whatever that might be, at any cost.
From the pop culture perspective, his courage to follow his heart into this transition was vastly more important than any potential lateral issues that may come because of it. ENews’s video of Kris (Bruce’s ex-wife) grieving the loss of Bruce as they knew him is really interesting as you watch values collide and individualism painfully win the day.
Someone’s heart is fulfilled for the moment, but another heart becomes broken.
Even in my own personal experience I have seen many people deeply hurt others while trying to follow their own heart.
What about the husband who chooses another lover and leaves behind a devastated spouse and children? Do I tell the kids and their mom, “Be proud! Your dad followed his heart!” Or the young adult I counseled with a few years back who basically said, “All I want to do is smoke weed with my friends and live off of welfare.” Should we be proud of him? I can assure you, he was passionately following his heart. I have so many examples…
Here is what I see.
- The heart is erratic and inconsistent.
- The heart is most often driven by appetites, that change.
- The heart can be really selfish one day and amazingly selfless the next.
- Hyper-individualism hurts others and ultimately leaves people more lost and lonely.
Remember, most “be true to oneself” actions come with a cost. What, or who, is in the chopped-up wake of you pursuing your heart? Moreover, the very joy you thought you would achieve often ends up being the doorway to deeper pain. Not only others, but yours. I believe Jesus is a better guide than your heart. I also believe Jesus can lead you to a vastly superior joy than you could ever find following your own appetites. Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. (Luke 19:10) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Here is the truth. Humanity is lost and some of the most lost of our race love to pretend that they know the way all while leading people into more loneliness and darkness. The Bible literally says that the truest us is found in following the ways of Jesus (John 3:16). The Bible isn’t a cage to keep you from fun, it is a map that shows you the way to the deepest and truest joys. (Romans 6:23; John 10:10; Revelation 21:4-8)
I say your heart isn’t the best compass, the one who made it is. I believe your truest joys don’t end up coming from, “What do I want?” but “What does Christ want for me?”
It may be time to try a new, Christ-centered, compass.