Anomie, Anonymity, Alienation
Philosophers and ethicists have offered the theory that every person is affected by “anomie, anonymity, alienation” (Waldo Beach, Christian Ethics). Cut off from any moral basis, people are “anomie;” they have no “norm” of behavior or moral ground. They act primarily for themselves and look out for and fight for their own best interests. Our culture has largely cut itself adrift from moral grounding as we have denied the existence of any being bigger than we are (namely, God).
Secondly, they suggest that we struggle with “anonymity.” We are not known. We have no identity, no purpose, no direction. We are lonely specs in the cosmos.
When I was a little boy and dinosaurs still roamed the earth, we used to go to a stream of runoff water near our house and we’d catch “pollywogs;” baby frogs that still had tails and hadn’t grown legs. We would keep them in a metal bucket and wait for them to turn into frogs. They were just specs in that large metal bucket, and they’d squirm back and forth, but everywhere they would swim ended the same. That’s the way many people feel. They are aimless, insignificant, meaningless, accidental specs.
And finally, people are alienated. When you have disconnected yourself by sin from the most fundamental life relationship… with God… you find you can’t really get along with anybody. The problems of life, everything from sibling rivalry to world-shaking wars, come back to the reality that we are cut off, not only from God, but from each other.
When you come to Christ, you are no longer “without law” but now you have a moral compass and moral code that constrains you. Living without a moral direction feels like freedom, in the same way escaping the confines of the goldfish bowl feels like freedom to the fish. But we know that ends in death.
And now that you have been raised with Christ, you have meaning, and a purpose, and a new identity: you are God’s child, and an heir with Jesus Christ. You are no longer “anonymous” and unknown. You are known and beloved by God.
Then the third thing, you are no longer alienated. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And because we have a reconciled relationship with God, we can begin to see this reality working its way out in our relationships with others as we being to experience the power of “living risen!”