As a Christian, are you on your own with God? Can you really be a Christian without the church? Or are you inextricably only a Christian in as much as you have cast your lot with other Christians (as well as with Christ)?
In American Christianity, affected as it has been by Fundamentalism, there is some sense that faith is most basically about a personal relationship, you with Jesus. And that theme (but not the Fundamentalism) can be traced all the way back to Jesus. It is clear that part of his religious innovation was to try and internalize — make more personal / heartfelt — the religious practice of his day that was the observance or practice of the law.
But Jesus’ ministry never swerved towards the individualism that we sometimes hear in American Christianity. While he may be encouraging a spirituality that is based on a strong, direct, personal relationship with God, his basic message is about the Kingdom of Heaven, an unavoidably communal understanding that keeps the faith he is teaching grounded in both individuals who find their meaning in relationship to an immediate God and the community of those individuals who become the body of Christ.
Join us on Sunday to think about how these difference emphases change our understandings our callings, responsibilities and accountabilities.