Take the "I" from the Bible

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Ann Spangler

If you took the time to read the entire Bible, you would find that it is not primarily a book about how God deals with individuals, but how he relates to his people. Even his dealings with Old Testament personalities such as Abraham, Moses, Deborah, and David always have a communal dimension because these were the guides through which God worked to bless, chastise, and guide His people.

In contrast, our own religious bestseller lists are filled with books that contradict this biblical tendency. Instead, they promote individual spiritual fulfillment to the exclusion of everyone else. But take each Bible promise book in hand, examine the context in which each of the promises was made, and ninety-nine out of a hundred you will find that God's promises were given to his people as a whole, not individuals.

If you want to live a life of blessing and fulfillment – the Biblical Shalom – you cannot do this alone, but only in the context of the Christian community.

Community should be a place where we can be healed and strengthened, where we can experience mercy and forgiveness when we meet others who, like us, want to grow in Christ resemblance. Community is also a place to discover our gifts so that we can be useful for God's purposes. Together with others, we can make a difference in the world. Without community, it's easy to get carried away by the desires that define most people. The lure of money, sex, and power and the evils associated with them can be difficult to bear. Without brothers and sisters who remind us of what we live for, we lose sight of the kingdom that God is building and forget that we are called together to do His work.

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