Ours is a DIY (do-it-yourself) era. Ours is a technological time. Ours is an independence obsessed society. We’d rather do it ourselves 90% correctly than have a trained professional do a perfect job. We’d rather consult webmd than a trained doctor or Wikipedia than a thoroughly educated, specialized teacher. We’d rather use TurboTax than enlist a certified accountant to file our tax returns.
There are all kinds of benefits to living in this era. Money is saved on labor expenses. Time is rescued from waiting rooms and put back into the lives of patients. Effort toward the goal of increased knowledge is spared and funneled into other areas of life. Time and money are wrested back into the hands of taxpayers as they don’t have to wait as long to get back guaranteed larger tax returns.
But there are drawbacks to living in this age and downsides to living in this era. For the more and more we do ourselves, the less and less we need each other. The more and more we can handle ourselves, the less and less we value the gifts of others. If we are not careful, before long, we have bought into the myth that is independence and autonomy. We don’t need anyone’s help. Training is irrelevant. Expertise is immaterial. Sooner or later we begin to think we can exist entirely on our own.
Such a mindset is harmful enough in our everyday lives. It is even more devastating, however, when it shapes the way we approach the community of faith into which we’ve been reborn as sons and daughters of God. So we devalue the unique gifts of others, content to try to imitate them, even if our best efforts barely come close to others’ worst efforts. In the process, we begin to see others as disposable or replaceable.
Paul will let us have none of that, however. For as one body, every part has a role to play, every component has a function. The minute we forget it, we begin to die a slow death. But in the moments we remember, we experience life like none other.