What If Christianity Isn’t about Me?

We keep ourselves honest by examining the lens through which we see the world. If our lens is dirty or discolored, our ability to accurately examine the world is in jeopardy. The only chance we have at embracing reality as it is—and not just as we see it—is by consistently challenging our perspective. Take, for instance, the way we view Scripture.

Scripture doesn’t tell a story about individuals; it’s a story of God’s development of a people. Even when the story is about an individual, the context is about community. Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the prophets are simply plot devices in a dynamic story of about a chosen people and their amazing deity.

When we get to the New Testament, we zero in on the church, the bride of Christ, one people of one Spirit with one destiny. It’s amazing when you think of it. The epistles are, by and large, written to churches—not individuals. In fact, the New Testament barely addresses individuals.

Obviously my entrance into this community comes as I personally respond to God’s invitation. And this community is healthiest when I, as an individual, am respectful, sensitive, and giving. So, I do have a personal responsibility and calling, but it’s to community and not isolated from it.

We talk a lot about accepting Jesus as our personal savior. We focus on whether we as individuals are “getting fed,” and whether we are having our personal devotions. Instead of wondering what God would say to us corporately, we have an unhealthy interest in what God is saying to us individually.

The church is not a place where I go to get my needs met. It’s something else entirely. It’s the place where I, like a drop of water, go to join other droplets. When we’re gathered, we become bigger than ourselves. You don’t think of a raging sea as untold billions of water molecules, you think of it for what it is—a force of nature. Christ came to create, empower, and release this flood on the world. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than you. It’s us.

We have been raised to think of ourselves, and our personal potential. We can be whatever we want to be. We can have the dream: 2.5 kids, a house in the suburbs, and a dish on the roof for the soaps. Not many want to think of themselves as some small part of something greater. The Western mindset doesn’t elevate the collective over the individual. Maybe that’s where we’re wrong? Maybe that what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

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