April 20, 2021

It's Not about You (sg.)

I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you.
Genesis 9:9-10
Many Americans have been conditioned to see Christianity as a transaction between God and the individual. The point of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ was so that I could accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. Despite the fact that this phrase is found nowhere in the Bibe, this shouldn't be a bad thing. The idea that I have this personal relationship with God, that I realize the extent of God's love for me, should fill me with gratitude and move me beyond myself.

The problem is that this form of evangelism has too often resulted in a selfish religion that sees nothing beyond the individual—a problem that is exacerbated by the English language itself, which uses the same pronoun for you (singular) and you (plural). The plural form is used much more often than the average American (or British or Canadian or Australian) Bible-reader suspects, meaning a verse that I think is directed at me personally is often intended not for the individual, but for the community.

The fact of the matter is that God's love is for everyone, and God's redemption is for all creation. We see this clearly in the story of Noah's Ark. But we also read it clearly in Paul, who says that all creation is being set free in Christ. Yes, God loves me personally. But God's covenant is with a people. And through that people, God shows love for the world and everything—human, animal, plant, water, rock, air, you name it—in it. I have been redeemed to be part of a beautiful, interconnected universe. How sad that I am so often encouraged to think instead that it's all about me.

Do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.
 Colossians 1:23 (NIV)
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Thank you, O God, for your love for all that you have made. Help me to see and feel myself a part of your beloved creation, even as I acknowledge that my call to serve you is unique in all the world.
✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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