Thursday, April 06, 2006

Discipleship is not an individual matter

Dan Edelen reminds us that there is 'No "I" in "Church"':
Almost all the language of the NT books following the Gospels accounts for a group, rather than individuals. Paul writes primarily to churches, and when he does write to individuals (such as Timothy), it's mostly on how to care for a group of people. In Revelation, the Lord addresses churches when He reveals His praise and His correction. Consistently, the language of the NT possesses a bent toward the group.
In Western culture, I think, it's hard to overstate the importance of understanding the corporate nature of NT language for accurately interpreting the Scriptures. Yet Christians, especially those of us in the United States, seem to overlook this fact, as Dan points out:
Built on the idea of the power of the individual, America has fashioned an ideal lifestyle that says, "I can have what I want as long as I work for it." The American Dream has little place for others, though, just my dream at the expense of anyone who should get in my way. Sadly, this American rugged individualism is at the core of everything we do. We abide by that unwritten rule, living with an understanding that cooperation will get us our basic needs, but if we truly want the best stuff, it's every man for himself.
Dan's article is rather long, but it's worth reading.

Addendum: This post was already in the queue when I read Dan's latest post, about my current situation. I haven't yet responded to Dan (other than here). I simply don't know what to say, other than to weep and give thanks to God. I'm in the process of doing a post on God's wonderful provision. I hope to share it soon. All glory to God.


Blogger Pilgrim feet said...

There is no I in Church, or in Team. But thank God there is an I in Christ, the personal Savior.

Liked the comments about loose body parts. God wants the church to work together that's for sure.

Many examples in the NT where they weren't. It's amazing to see the church being obedient, so they can see God work.

I'd like to see a few more blogs on (real) obedience to God's Word. "Be ye doers of the Word...". What would the church accomplish through God if everyone's focus was on obedience, consistently and at one time? It would be like a crew team! Yeah!

Peace and have a great day in Christ.


6:55 AM, April 06, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, PF.

7:14 AM, April 07, 2006  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Dan is correct: there is no "I" in "church." There's also no "o" or "w" or "Θ" or "εγω." For that matter, there is no "God" in "church" or "worship" in church.

Such observations are clever and attention-grabbing, but they tend to blur the importance of "the proper working of each individual part" (Eph 4.16) and that "each will receive his own reward according to his own labor." Ours is a personal Savior, as PF states, and not an individual Savior; nevertheless, we exist as individuals that are personally responsible. "I" cannot blame the church for my lack of holiness simply because there is no "I" in church; I make the choices.

It is true that community is often neglected in our American culture, but it is not an either/or matter. We must encourage one another, but each of us must do what only we can do. As is usually the case in such instances, what is called for is balance and not an emphasis of one at the expense of another.

12:08 PM, April 07, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...


9:00 AM, April 11, 2006  

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