Individualities, chips broken from the social community of the historical past, are now allowed by modernity. The uniquenesses of individuals are becoming the building blocks of a robotic beast operated by remote control. However, the contemporary communal creature requires energy to run, and people are running out of fuel. Fortunately, the Word and Presence of God are most effective at the breaking point of humanism’s promised structural strength. Released by grace from all collective control – secular and spuriously religious – the soul is freed to bathe in the life-giving blood of Christ and walk in The Way that He is.

In the courtyard behind a vape shop in a German biergarten, a young woman petted my pink fur sweater as if I were a bunny, laying her head on my shoulder in exhaustion. The firepit sparked behind us as restaurant staff left us to our conversation, knowing we would eventually be on our way. The night was chill, but not cold. The alcohol in her system softened her, but the Spirit of God drew her.

She was tired. Her guru had been filling her with humanistic pressures: “You are enough. You can do all things. You have the gift within. You are all you need.”

She had been applying the costly sessions as best she could – even beyond her best, weakening rather than strengthening – and did I want to know a secret?

“I’m not enough,” she whispered.

Shame trickled into my shoulder.

“I can’t do it. I’m trying so hard, but I’m tired. So tired.”

My pale pink faux fur dampened, either from the night air or her tears.

“You don’t have to do it alone. You weren’t meant to do it alone,” I spoke gently so as not to spook this stranger who took to my side like cotton candy on a stick. The slightest harshness and I felt she would melt.

“I don’t? Do you mean it? I don’t have to do it all . . . myself?”

And there, the Spirit of God opened the scriptures of hope to an exhausted soul.

The chips of modernity are falling, humanism is failing, and some are doubling down. But not all. Some are disintegrating and finding hope beneath the rubble, a stream flowing behind the veneer of social media and social engineering, under the sands of newscasters and news spinners. The water flows. Draughts are drunk. God has not forgotten us.

Modernity’s excitement of the individual through social spread, health and science breakthroughs, and media messages needfully breaks the historical collective that strong-arms us to follow simply because ‘they say so’. More than tradition is necessary to hold us steady in an ever-changing world. We need the vital energy of life and life more abundantly, the very life that Christ, our ever-present shepherd, offers in His presence and by the gift of the extant Holy Spirit.

Shattering the peanut from the brittle, individuals need releasing from long-held bondages and patterns of thought and behavior soaked in the rum of unbelieving secrecy, sometimes veiled as faith and sometimes as atheism. Crimes are committed and victims are coerced to ‘keep it in the church’ for the ‘sake of Christ’s reputation’, whisked behind the scenes and silenced for the Lamb. 

Community resources of love, mercy, honesty, and justice are labeled ‘demonic influences of evil Babylon’, while religious leaders offer little more than one could glean from a scroll through social media positivity memes: have hope, be sweet, be at peace (where there is no peace).

When the ligatures crack and modernity exposes motives and means, the structure totters, and even the Church (as it is represented) fails. This is good. The Church needs to be reminded that it is a gathering of individuals who follow The Way; it is not The Way itself. The Church has the opportunity to be interested in the reputation of Christ Himself, rather than its business model. We will always need The Church, the elements of a greater whole, the members of His Body to gather, to teach, to love. 

However, the Church, along with secular collectives, has (in growing cases) usurped the godhead and enthroned itself and its institutions as plastic monarchies, vulnerable to molding whims and cracking stress fractures. Collectivism itself was never designed to be The Answer. Christ Himself – an individual – was sent intentionally, deliberately, as The Answer, The Way.

The blood of the Lamb is not wheel grease to manipulate the political or parochial vehicles. Rather, it is our life. We bow before it, we bathe in it: from pulpit to pew, from pope to prostitute, from polished to punk. We are unique, we are precious each as each is. We needed modernity to remind us of this.

But we don’t need modernity to capture our now splintered-off selves, becoming additions to their conglomerate metallic mass, architects of our own kind designing our collective fate. Instead, we need the Engineer of our Souls to recalibrate our compass with His Word, understanding scripture in context and according to the spirit in which it was given. We need our Savior to save us, each one, one by one, name by name, called and carried.

We need our tears felt on the downy, lambswool’d shoulder of compassion. We need to be reminded: we are each one unique, we were not created to accomplish life alone, our Creator has not abandoned us to a manufactured malfunctioning system of machine parts, secular or religious.

Modernity broke a moldy mass mold. Thank God.

Modernity released the individual. Thank God.

Modernity broke promises of structural integrity. Thank God.

God meets us in the rubble.

We sit cross-legged, brokenhearted, tired of trying, trying, trying. The shadow of wooden beams falls on us as the light behind blinds us, exposing us. Our self-sacrifices are diluted by pride-filled intents. Our faint pink fur is only slightly dyed by the sweat of our own blood. And we lift our hands and cry, ‘Holy!’, knowing the mirror has shattered. We see that we are seen.

The hide we need is His, ravaged scarlet flesh shredded by those of our ilk, our intent, our shame. His hide becomes our hiding place.

No longer protected by the collective, we raise our individuality to His hollowed-out wrist, insert our identifiable finger, and receive His welcome.

Modernity gave us the right to call ourselves by our names.

Christ gave us the right to become children of God.