But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4.15-16)Having been recently thinking about bodies and health, I've been pondering corporate metaphors. Here's my thought: free-market capitalism assumes that the selfish interest of each is good for the health of the whole. If we each pursue our private goals rationally, even if selfishly, the whole body politic will flourish. However, medically speaking, when a part of the body decides to maximise its growth without reference to the rest, we call it a tumour. Individualism might then be seen as cancer: a part of the body living for itself and ignoring those around it. In the end, either it goes or the body goes.
Perhaps strangely, cancer is simply too much of a good thing: growth. Or rather, it is a disordered growth, a growth without reference to the whole body. In terms of the Ephesians passage mentioned above, it is growth without reference to the head, the organising principle and ruler of the body, which for the church (and the entire created order) is found in Christ. What is wrong with the world is the pursuit of little goods without this being properly ordered to Christ as the head of all.
Perhaps we can push this picture further and apply it on both larger and smaller scales. Personally, when I select one good thing and absolutise it into the be-all and end-all of life, then I have not only become an idolater, but have stimulated a malignant condition that threatens the balance and health of my whole life. Whether it be a relationship, a goal, a sense of fulfilment or security, or even physical health itself, unless each part of life is working properly with reference to the others, growing together into Christ, then I have become a threat to myself and those around me.
Moving in the other direction, humanity as a whole can attempt to flourish without reference to the rest of the created order. We pursue our short-term goals of economic prosperity, little aware that unless the pace, nature and direction of our growth is directed by what is apt for our ecological context, then we too may be more hindrance than help to the earth we were directed to serve (Genesis 3.23).*
*Although often translated "the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till [or work] the ground from which he was taken," the Hebrew verb can also include the idea of 'service'.
Ten points for the famous museum in which this statue is presently located. More points available in comments.