This post is influenced in part by Justin Ely's great post here, and mainly over an idea I have been pondering over the past couple months. The idea is how we, as Christians, experience the Grace of God. The tension is between individualistic vs. corporate experience.
The reason Justin's blog post got me thinking about this is because he writes about all the many mercies of God that we have "in Christ". Justin's concern in his blog, and rightly so, is that we focus not on ourselves in 2014 but in the mercies of God available to us "in Christ". My concern is how do we obtain and experience these mercies as Christians?
We live in an extremely individualistic culture. Turn on the television and you are presented with commercial after commercial explaining how different products can serve "you" and your little kingdom. Unfortunately, the Western Church has adopted this individualism, hook, line and sinker. The view of the Christian life currently set forth by many bastions of modern Evangelicalism is one of individual salvation isolated from corporate relationship.
The modern evangelical says that you experience the mercies of God on an individual level. The church is here to help, but ultimately the experience is individual.
I disagree. I would argue that we have access to these mercies of God "in Christ" on a corporate level, namely, in the Church.
Something I would like to point out is that we have access to these mercies "in Christ". Where is "in Christ"? According to the New Testament "in Christ" is in His body, the Church.
Therefore, if we want access to these mercies of God "in Christ" we must understand where "in Christ" is. "In Christ" is just that in His body. The New Testament never once separates the Church (the Body of Christ) from Christ. It is true that we can distinguish between these things, we can talk about Christ separately from His church. Furthermore, we can distinguish an individuals relationship with Christ from his relationship with other members of Christ's body. However, practically speaking the New Testament writers are always imploring their readers to love Christ and each other simultaneously. They refuse to separate what they believe cannot be separated!
If we are to focus on the mercies of God "in Christ" in 2014 (as I hope we do!) we should make sure that we never think we can experience them apart from the Body of Christ ("in Christ"), His Church.
Food for thought!