Western culture in general has a high degree of emphasis on the individual. Individual rights and values are often allowed to trump societal benefits and norms.* Some would say that this is a direct result of western Christianity and the changing relationship between Church and State.#
Faith, in particular, has become much more about me and my relationship with God and less about community and serving my neighbour. I am not sure which came first, the cultural tendency toward individualism, or an individualism of faith that influenced an entire culture, but it is an anomaly. In the latter part of the 19th century George MacDonald had this to say about our faith:
Till we begin to learn that the only way to serve God in any real sense of the word is to serve our neighbor, we may have knocked at the wicket-gate, but I doubt if we have got one foot across the thresh-hold of the Kingdom.^
How might we turn the tide of individualism which is sweeping both church and culture? Could we start with these words of Jesus?
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28 (New Living Translation)
*I believe such statements to be somewhat self-evident but if the reader wishes to investigate this further they may look to Wikipedia.
#For example see this abstract.
^George MacDonald in Beautiful Thoughts, First published in 1895.