God saves us individually, yet saves us to be a people.
I’m about 50 pages into Jamie Smith’s “Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism.” What he wrote on pages 29 and 30 really resonated with me:
… there simply is no Christianity apart from the body of Christ, which is the church. The body is the New Testament’s organic model of community that counters the modernist emphasis on the individual.
The church does not exist for me; my salvation is not primarily a matter of intellectual mastery or emotional satisfaction. The church is the site where God renews and transforms us – a place where the practices of being the body of Christ form us into the image of the Son.
… Nothing is more countercultural than a community serving the Suffering Servant in a world devoted to consumption and violence. But the church will have this countercultural, prophetic witness only when it jettisons its own modernity; in that respect postmodernism can be another catalyst for the church to be the church.
Who knows if it is wiring or training… but modernity comes naturally for me. I’m a fact guy, I crave solutions, and I most easily think more as an individual than as a member of a community. I can find myself in a worship service and be focused entirely on my own consumption of spiritual goods, experiencing no more connection with those around me than the connection I might have with fellow consumers in a random Wal-Mart.
But when I approach the New Testament honestly and understand what it says, I have to agree with Jamie when he says that there is “no Christianity apart from the body of Christ.” We don’t need the church for salvation; we only need Jesus. But in order to live this Christian life, for Christianity, we need to be the church.
I’ve heard a number of Christians say “I don’t need to go to church.” And I’ve heard lots of people explain that they need to go to church for Bible study, and discipleship, and fellowship… we need the stuff we can get at church. Bah! We don’t need to go to church… we need to be the church. When God saves us He saves us individually; yet He saves us to be His people. The only way to be an obedient Christian is to be an active, integrated, caring, useful member of the Body of Christ, in a church.