Hehe…I know, my post sounds so very socialist… 🙂
I’ve been reading Jeremiah. What repeatedly jumps out at me is the fact that God dealt with (and spoke to) the Israelites as a nation rather than as individuals. You see this throughout the Bible and it brings up questions (for me, anyway!). In Jeremiah chapter 7, God addresses the worship of idols (and points out the fact that it has become a part of daily family life). He tells Jeremiah that His people have ceased to incline their ear to obey Him & have, instead, begun to follow the dictates of their own hearts. He also begins to outline the consequences that this nation will face.
Now, being the American that I am, I immediately began to question whether or not all of the Israelites were involved in idol worship. In other words, I wondered about the fairness of punishing the whole rather than individuals. What I see, though, is that it does not seem to have mattered. In God’s eyes the Israelites were/are an intricately entwined group before Him. Certainly, they are individuals – but whenever God used an individual it always seemed to be for the purpose of the collective. This is a mind-altering perspective that is very difficult for an American mind to really grasp.
Does God still deal with us this way? Does He look at “The Church” in the same way that He looked at the Israelites? If so, my responsibility level just went up about 100 degrees. How much am I held accountable for the actions of the group at large? How much am I participating in “being valiant for the truth on the earth” (Jer. 9:3)? Further, how does this perspective change my daily life – causes I pick up, places I volunteer, churches I join, family and ministry balance, comments that I say out loud, hits that I’m willing to take (or not)? Finally, what does this perspective do to the popular idea that God has a plan and purpose for my individual life – where is the dividing line between myself and The Church?
It is complicated and I have a feeling I won’t reach any firm conclusions. God seems to have set things up so that we do NOT figure things out. Keeps us dependent on Him, I suppose. Still, though, I’m praying that He’ll point out anything to me that I’ve been missing here. Do you have any thoughts on how God views the church at large in comparison to individuals?
*Note: In case you’re wondering, here’s a practical example of what I’m thinking. In the same chapter, Jeremiah delivers the strong words that God has for the nation of Israel as they participated in child sacrifice to idols. I’m sure that all of the Israelites were not sacrificing children (or even condoning the practice) yet that did not matter. They were part of a whole who had turned from God’s heart. In present-day, we know that millions of babies are killed every year via abortion. Though I abhor the practice, it is not a “cause” I have picked up and crusaded for (too often, causes become gods and GOD gets forgotten). Now I find myself asking whether or not I have a larger responsibility to The Church than I previously thought in this area.