Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Living for Christ: Not "I," but "We"

I do not live or die for myself. If I live, I live for the Lord, and if I die, I die for the Lord. So living or dying, I belong to the Lord. Romans 14:7-8

These verses don’t exist. When I was in high school I remember having a dog tag with these words engraved on it. I wore it around my neck on top of my shirt (one veteran I know told me to put it on the inside per official military protocol). I liked that dog tag. Then I looked up the verse. Here’s how it really reads (in the New Century Version):

We do not live or die for ourselves. If we live, we are living for the Lord, and if we die, we are dying for the Lord. So living or dying, we belong to the Lord.

Why the change from “we” to “I” on the dog tag? Perhaps they were trying to save space. When it comes to engraving, a few extra letters can make the difference between “fits” and “don’t fit.” But I don’t think that’s the real reason. I think the reason is because that dog tag was meant for an individual. It was to encourage the individual to live for Christ. This is noble. But the main thrust of the verses, instead of focusing on the lone individual who lives for Christ, actually shows us the opposite: together, as a believing community, we live for Christ.

The Christian community is not inward focused. We do not live or die for ourselves. Christ is the head and center of all Christian life; and Christian life is not experienced in isolation. God has called us out of our own self-centeredness and sin into a life of community for the glory of his Son. God did not call me to be a Facebooker, blogger, or some other kind of digital hermit. I am called to live for Christ within the Christian community, with people named John, Raul, Martha, Karina, and Santos.

Instead of rewording the Bible to focus on ourselves, let us take the Bible for what it says and live in the community he has made us a part of.

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