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This Is Us

• Greg Boyd

While we are to invest in our individual Christian formation, we are also responsible for our formation corporately. We do not live out our faith merely as individuals. We live out our love for Christ together and work out our salvation as a group.

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Jesus holds individual congregations responsible for the character they develop. He treats each congregation as though each was a distinct person. The church at Ephesus had lost their first love. Jesus is not saying every individual had lost their first love. He is warning the church as a whole, because, as a group, they had backslidden. It seems we also must give an account of our corporate character as a church body.

In modern Western culture, when we think of two or more people having a relationship, we think of the relationship taking place between people. The relationship is secondary to the individuals. However in the biblical worldview, important relationships, which are referred to as covenantal, envelop the people and create a new reality, a new “us.”

This is illustrated by the covenant of marriage where the two become “one flesh.” Sex is a sign of the covenant, as the “one flesh” reality encompasses everything. The couple must stop thinking only as “I” and start thinking as “we” because their identities and destinies are now intertwined.

Any covenant that binds people together creates a new reality, a new us. This is why tribes, nations and ultimately humanity as a whole are treated as a single person. To some degree, the welfare of each individual within those tribes, nations and humanity as a whole is corporately interconnected. No person is an island, as our lives always intertwine with the lives of others. To some degree, we stand or fall together. One’s life is inseparably intertwined with family, friends, spouse, ethnicity, and nationality. We are each part of a larger “us.”

An individual church is a corporate “us.” This is reflected in the New Testament in a number of ways. In most of the Epistles the word “you” is plural. Paul was talking to the congregations as a group. This is seen in Philippians 2:13: “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purposes.” The verbs and pronouns are all plural. He is not saying “each of you work out your own individual salvation.” Rather, you together work out your shared salvation, because God is at work in your togetherness to will and to act to fulfill his purposes. God fulfills his purposes as “you” as a congregation work together to get your lives to line up with your identity in Christ.

Paul immediately says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, …then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain” Philippians 2:14-16. The New Testament assumes that all members of a given congregation are responsible for one another.

In summary, this means three things:
1. All Jesus followers are called to be part of a larger ecclesiastical “us.”
2. We are to strive for maturity not only for our sake, but for the sake of others.
3. We are working out our salvation by learning how to love together.

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Topics: Community, Discipleship, Individualism

Sermon Series: The Center of Hope

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
The MuseCast: September 12

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 2:1

    To the angel of the church of Ephesus write:…I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…Yet, I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

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2 thoughts on “This Is Us

  1. RACHEL says:

    Pastor Greg needs to be given a dark, thick marker so we can see it in the back of the church.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Rachel! We’re going to switch things up in future 🙂
      —Emily from Communications

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