Taking the "I" Out of the Bible

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

If you were to take time to read through the entire Bible, you would discover that it is not primarily a book about how God relates to individuals but about how he relates to his people. Even his dealings with Old Testament figures like Abraham, Moses, Deborah, and David always have a communal dimension to them because these were the leaders through whom God was working to bless, chasten, and guide his people.

By contrast, our own religious bestseller lists are populated with books that contradict this biblical tendency. Instead, they promote individual spiritual fulfillment to the exclusion of all else. But pick up any Bible promise book, examine the context in which each of the promises were given, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred you will discover that God's promises were given to his people as a whole, not to individuals.

If you want to live a life of blessing and fulfillment--of biblical shalom--you cannot do so on your own but only within the context of Christian community.

Community is meant to be a place where we are healed and strengthened, where we can experience mercy and forgiveness as we encounter others who, like us, desire to grown in Christlikeness. Community is also a place to discover our gifts so that we can become useful for God's purposes. Together with others, we can make a difference in the world. Without community, it is easy to be swept along by the desires that define most people. The lure of money, sex, and power and their affiliated evils can be difficult to withstand. Without brothers and sisters to remind us of what we are living for, we lose sight of the kingdom God is building, forgetting that together we are called to do his work.


Originally published March 31, 2020.