Monday, May 20, 2024

Personal Lord and Savior

We live in a very individualized society...sort of. (Anyone who is trying to make it as a single person in this world understands how much of our very "individualized" world is actually created for families/groups.) We have been told that the most important thing about us is our freedom. It's what we choose for ourselves. It's how we invest in ourselves. 

We have a culture in which we are militant about who we are, and we put up this really fierce bravado about whether or not others can "handle" us  - and if they can't, then bye. Because we shouldn't have to change anything about ourselves. We shouldn't have to change a thing about who we are for "anyone," including ourselves. We are perfect just the way we are and anyone who can't see that...well, that's their problem. 

So in a world where everything is about us as individuals, it's not hard to understand how we got to a place where we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Among the things in the world that are ours to choose and belong to us, we count our faith. So if we have Jesus, it's because we chose Him. If we are Christians, it's because we want to be. If we choose the Christian faith, then that is just one of many personal decisions that we have made for ourselves and one of the things about us that others have to deal with or not. 

We have lessons in our churches about how if it were only us, just you, just me, then Jesus still would have gone to the Cross to reconcile us to God. If it was just one single one of us, Jesus still loves us that much - that while we were still a sinner, Christ died for us. For me. For you. 

We've talked about this before. It's something we have to keep talking about because of the world that we live in. It's something that we can't let ourselves lose sight of. 

Because for thousands of years, this was not the teaching of Christianity. Or of Judaism before it. It was not the teaching in the Old Testament, and it's not the emphasis of the teaching in the New Testament. Christianity has never been intended to be about us; it's always been about Christ. 

And through Christ, God so loved the world

This is important because our understanding of the faith as an individualistic venture and our understanding of Christ as our personal Lord and Savior has led us to a place where many believe that they can live the Christian faith alone. Sometimes, they call themselves "spiritual, but not religious." Sometimes, they call themselves "unaffiliated" - meaning they don't have a church home. In Christian college circles, there's a popular concept (at least over the past many decades) of "dating Jesus" - I don't need a boyfriend/girlfriend; I have Jesus.

And on and on and on we go creating these ideas where we can have God without community and convince ourselves, or try to, that this is sufficient. After all, if God is the God of all Creation and He is all sufficient and all powerful and all loving, then having God should be enough for us. Shouldn't it? Anything else is just extra. Just bonus. Optional. Like a create-your-own Christian adventure package. 

But is it? Is Christian community optional? 

To talk about this idea this time, we're actually not going to talk about the church. Not really. We're not going to talk about fellowship and connection. We're not. We're not even going to touch the New Testament (maybe Thursday - I haven't really thought that far ahead yet, but I'm not planning on it right now). We're going old school, Old Testament. Because the very roots of our faith have something very important to say about this idea that if we have God, we have all we need. 

God Himself says that's simply not true.  

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