In the US, individuality is all the rage, and it has been since at least 4 July 1776. Individuality is not a bad thing, automatically. While there are many aspects to our faith that are indeed communal (and must remain that way), there are others that are certainly individual.
The most significant aspect is our salvation. US Evangelistic Christendom created almost a creed out it, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” It certainly isn’t a bad question.
One of things it opposes, however, is a longer running tradition of the church with is infant and child baptism. Infant and child baptism generally falls under the rubric of collective salvation. This is not to say it is invalid, quite the contrary. It is just a perspective that is different. Sadly, though, it was definitely a tactic use to divide certain traditions (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist) from others (Baptist, Pentecostal, and non-denominational).
However, once a person is able to discern right from wrong all traditions recognize that salvation has become individual. Whether by baptism or by confirmation, there is some recognition of the individual’s acceptance of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
There is a danger, though, in regard to individual salvation. The danger is a mental one. Many people can get to the point of intellectual assent. Others can get to the point of emotional assent.
It is not to say that only having one means that you are not saved, for God works through all aspects of our personalities and can redeem them. It is to say that is only through both intellect and emotional that we “…may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:18–19, CSB)
1) Is it easier for you to intellectually understand God, or emotionally? Why do you think that is? Where else in your life do you see that?
2) Why do you think intellect and heart are needed in our relationship with God?
3) How might a person maintain balance between intellect and emotion? What practices do you have to do so?
Jesus, to know you is to know God. May the knowledge of hearts be equal to the knowledge of our minds when it comes to relationship with you. Amen.