Home > Culture, Theology > For The City: Why Christians Need to Focus on both Personal and Corporate Redemption

For The City: Why Christians Need to Focus on both Personal and Corporate Redemption

The Christianity I grew up with in the 90’s was highly concerned with getting people “saved.”  The aim was to get as many sinners into one room as possible, preach at them, coerce them into praying the “sinner’s prayer,” tell them to hang on tight for eternity and then move on to the next batch of heathens.

This tactic did have its benefits (God brought some people to faith in Jesus), but it had its drawbacks too. At best some people turned to the Lord with genuine faith for personal redemption, but they did not learn to seek the redemption of their families, neighborhoods and cities.  At worst many people were wrongly told they were Christians because they prayed a prayer even though they didn’t possess genuine faith in Jesus.

Modern Comparison

Now, many modern Christians have shifted to another extreme.  They can be overly concerned with corporate redemption.  Some seem to care very little about individuals breaking free from addiction, healing from abuse or living in obedience to God and focus instead only on the big issues like poverty, social injustice and equality.  This too has its benefits and drawbacks.

On the one hand, the church is doing a much better job of seeking the “welfare” of the city.  (Jeremiah 29:7; Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Corinthians 10:31-33) People actually care about the big issues like creation care, economic inequality and racial harmony.  On the other hand, many of today’s Christians have lost sight of the need for personal salvation by grace alone through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see a “Christian” more committed to his cause than he is to his Christ.

redemption 1

Both/And

By definition redemption means to make up for a mistake, to deliver from a state of being, to pay off a debt, to recover by payment or to repurchase something sold.  Biblically, redemption means to be delivered by Jesus from the way things are and brought back to the way God intends for them to be.  It means that Jesus made up for our mistakes, Jesus delivered us from our sin and the affects of it, Jesus paid our debt to God at the cost of his own life and Jesus purchased us for God when we had sold ourselves to sin. (Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 1:7-8; Romans 3:23-25; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 9:11-28)

The previous generation emphasized personal redemption.  The current generation emphasizes corporate redemption. The Bible emphasizes the importance of both.  Revelation 21:5 reflects corporate redemption when the Lord declares, “behold, I am making all things new.”  Colossians 1:14 reflects personal redemption when it says “in {Christ} we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Big Picture, Small Brushstrokes

The truth is, we cannot forsake the personal redemption of individuals for the sake of the corporate redemption of our cities and our world.  Likewise, we cannot abandon the needs of our city for the sake of personal salvation.  We need to approach redemption like an artist approaches a painting, one stroke at at time.

God is painting a beautiful picture of redemption in our world. He’s bringing education, science, creation, economics, government, business, cities, people groups and cultures back to the way he wants them to be by delivering them from the affects of sin through Christ. But we must not forget that he is doing it one stroke at a time through the changed lives of individual people.

As churches help individual’s break free from addiction, abuse, poverty and personal sin they can then use the changed lives of these individuals to help their cities experience equality, unity, economic improvement and the like.  We must have a vision for the corporate redemption of our cities, but we must always remember that it comes only through the personal redemption of individual people.  In fact, our personal faith in Jesus is best demonstrated by our corporate service to our cities. If we’re not seeking the welfare of our city we have to ask whether or not we have personally experienced Christ’s redemption for ourselves.

What are some ways your church practices both personal and corporate redemption? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  1. ronboviscous
    February 20, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    Very good. Balance between the two conditions you wrote of is critical and reflective of the Biblical mandate to be obedient out of our faith. Acceptance of the Gospel message is one thing and a great start, but actionable love – obedience out of that belief – that tells others of the good news of salvation, feeds, clothes, helps, etc. is critical. Ron Braley

  2. Nathaly
    February 20, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    Absolutely love this post, it is so true. I see so many people saved yet they don’t see the need in going out and helping the community and bringing others to Christ. I see Christians living in a safe box and we can’t live in box, God wants us out there too.

  3. February 20, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Thanks to the both of you! Our personal faith in Jesus is best demonstrated by our corporate service to our cities. If we’re not seeing the welfare of our city we have to ask whether or not we have experienced Christ’s salvation for ourselves.

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