More Than ME

Individualism is in the air we breathe. As Westerners it is naturally our bent but it is hyper-driven by our culture which is obsessed with self. This greatly impacts the way we think about and hear and see Scripture on the topic of salvation. “A personal relationship with Christ” is a phrase that gets used often in evangelical churches. It is a crucially important part of understanding salvation and the Gospel of grace. What is tricky is not allowing this understanding to crowd out the equally important understanding that God is working salvation in His people. That is to say, He is working salvation in individuals that they might be included in a group. And this is how He has always worked. With individuals and groups alike, to form a people who are peculiarly His own. In studying and preaching Romans 9-11, we do well to remember the overall arc of the conversation is focused on a group- Israel. As much as we can learn much about God’s working in the individual life, Paul’s focus is God’s work in people groups. Bruce Hultgren’s commentary on this section of Romans keeps returning to that point and we forget it only to our peril.

As it is, our perspective is tilted toward the individual. It takes hard work and discipline to keep from reading that into the text. It requires a continual returning to the context and its people group focus or, off into individualism we go. Jews and Gentiles did not get along. And Jewish superiority in matters of salvation where problematic from Jacob forward. They often (and most profoundly in Jesus) missed what God was doing because they were too busy being smug about the people group to which they belonged. In Christ, the new program for a people of God from every “tribe, nation and tongue” has begun. As we experience this individually, let us not lose the corporate nature of our salvation. We are saved into the new people of God. What sets us apart is that everyone who is a part of this people of God has been called by Him into relationship. To over emphasize the individual is to rob the text of its focus. It also creates unnecessary tension in the conversation of how God works in salvation. In Christ He has saved all He calls to be a part of the people who are peculiarly His. This means that we cannot presume anyone’s responsiveness to the Gospel based on their earth-bound people group. This also means that my salvation as an individual serves a much larger purpose than personal rescue. I am included as a part of the whole. I am on a mission to include as many as will listen into the whole. Salvation is for you but equally it is for us. We are called. We are rescued. God is making a people who are His very own and by His grace, you and I get to be a part of this wonderful community.

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