Joshua 7:1-5, 16-26
I love being an American, and I’m proud of being one. I love our culture and our history, and I’m eternally grateful for the influence Christianity and the Bible have had on us. That said, there are some things that drive me crazy about it. We're just now starting to live up to our ideals when it comes to race, and we certainly haven’t always lived up to God’s standards when it comes to politics or our popular culture.
Another thing about our American culture and background that is a definite hindrance is individualism. Our whole nation started off by saying to the Mother Country “You can’t tell US what to do!!!” Our Constitution is very careful about the rights of the individual, and our private marketplace is geared towards catering to individual wants and needs. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this, and I’m VERY grateful for the freedom I have to worship, speak, vote and buy products for me and my family.
The Bible certainly addresses the individual. Each one of us will have to give an individual account of ourselves to the Lord. When I stand before the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus, I won’t be able to hide behind the “everyone was doing it” excuse, and the Lord'll be looking at my individual hard work for reward for reward as well. The Bible certainly takes a dim view of the “victim” mentality which is so common in our society: “I had bad parents, so I’m not responsible for my sin.”
On the other hand, the Bible also deals with corporate responsibility, and this is a very foreign concept to a lot of American Christians. Every believer is a part of the Body of Christ. If you have access to a Bible software program which can look up words or phrases, go ahead and count how many “one another” passages there are in the N.T.: We're called to love one another, encourage one another, hold each other accountable, forgive one another, etc. Any concept of a personal relationship with Christ which excludes being part of the Body is completely alien to the Bible. As someone pointed out to me a long time ago, you can't say that you love the Savior and hate his Bride.
What does this mean? We’ll look at some more applications about being in the Body later on, but for now, we need to remember that ultimately there's really no such thing as “private sin.” My sin affects you, and vice-versa. My spiritual victories help you, and vice-versa. My close walk with Christ (or lack thereof) will help or hinder you. In today’s passage, one man’s sin brought defeat right after the incredible victory in Jericho. When they got rid of the sin in their midst, the victories returned. This isn't meant to encourage a judgmental attitude towards people in our congregations, but it should drive us to the Lord, asking him to examine our hearts and to help us take sin a lot more seriously than we do. The author of Hebrews commands us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.”
Father God, help me be on the lookout. There are brothers and sisters all around me who need encouragement. Please use me as a tool in your hand.