The modern man no longer needs one another. He needs others but he does not need another.
The modern man sits in his modern condo and uses modern appliances to do modern things. Others made them, but he does not know them.
He has never been to the store and he has never been to work. He stays at home and is more efficient that way. Others grow his food and work alongside him, but he does not know them.
Because he is a modern, the man shops online. He buys online and returns online. Packages arrive and depart from his doorstep. Others produce for him, but he does not know them.
The modern man has no thoughts of family. He does not need a wife for sexual fulfillment. He has limitless partners awaiting him online. Others please him, but he does not know them.
He also plays online. He does not have friends come visit him, or he visit them, but he meets his friends on video games and website forums. He sometimes posts on their social media accounts. Others leisure with him, but he does not know them.
The corporation moves him across the country. He lives near his parents now, but it makes no difference. Others raised him, but he does not know them.
Our man is a modern man through and through. He is an individual and the Enlightenment has succeeded.
The modern man is lost in a sea of anonymity. If this became mostly true with the advent of department stores, it has been made perfect through online shopping. The modern world is far too efficient and rational for life to be personal.
But it was not always this way. There was a time in Western society when men and women knew one another. Buying shoes, getting a tool fixed, traveling, and acquiring food were once personal endeavors, but they are no more.
I was reminded of this fact when my state got hit with 30+ inches of snow and the most remarkable thing happened. People met each other and if not for the first time, then certainly the first time in a long time.
Forced by the shoveling to venture outside, neighbors were with one another. By necessity we spurned Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, and everything else that draws us into isolation. Doors opened, kids played in the snow, dogs ran up and down the street, and neighbor helped neighbor. We got to know one another.
A few days later I visited the home of a 70+ year old saint and there I noticed an old church pew on his front porch. When asked why he had it, he responded, “I want to bring back the days when people were neighbors. Back then, we knew one another”.
In this age of rampant individualism the Church stands in the unique position as being the people of God. When individuals wonder about their place in society, the church has the opportunity to show them the body of Christ. There they can know and be known. There they can be one with others who are radically other (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). The church is a community of faith that brings Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, liberal and conservative, young and old, together as one man (Ephesians 2:15).
God’s eternal purpose has always been creating and setting apart a people for himself. This was true for Adam (and Eve), Abraham (and his descendants), and Christ (and his brothers and sisters). And this glorious reality–God making those who were not his people to become his people–is displayed every Lord’s day in local churches across the globe.
There brothers and sisters gather around the table for the family meal (the Lord’s Supper). There they gather to celebrate the adoption of new family members (baptism). And there they gather to sing praises to God, communion with him through prayer, and hear from their heavenly Father through his word. There the Church makes the people-creating gospel visible.