The Lord's Prayer – Individualism vs. Collectivism

OUR Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give US today OUR daily bread.

God gives enough to all of us for all of us but this doesn't mean each one of us gets enough for him/herself. Sharing with each other is part of his plan.

And forgive US our debts,

It is not just about my sin but about our sins.
If I haven’t sinned in regard to an issue but my country/community or the church has, I still need to join them in asking for forgiveness from God (and also from those we as a community have sinned against.)

As WE also have forgiven OUR debtors.

If someone has not sinned against me but against one of my brothers, I need to join them in extending forgiveness.

And lead US not into temptation,

Do not lead me or my brothers and sisters into temptation. Because if they sin, the whole community (including me) is affected by the consequence of their sin.

but deliver US from the evil one.

Same way, if I’m delivered from evil but my neighbor is not I still suffer from his/her oppression by the evil one. Deliver US from evil. I have a stake in the spiritual wellbeing of the other members of the community. Their wellbeing affects me.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

As intercultural trainers, one of the cultural dimensions we look at is accountability. Am I from a Community Accountability culture or an Individual Accountability culture? Here in the States we strongly believe in Individual Accountability. We apologize for our own wrongs and mistakes and we don’t punish someone for the sins of his/her parents. And rightly so! We also emphasize our personal relationship with God.

However, is this all there is? Or should Individual Accountability be kept in balance by Community Accountability? Is there something as a group relationship with God? When I read the Bible both have a strong presence and God demands both.

Yes, the Bible says that I am responsible for my own sin and God will judge me for my own sin, but there is also a communal aspect to our relationship with God. Hence, we are both called children of God (individual) and the Bride of Christ (communal). My sin does affect both the community relationship with God and my personal relationship with God. And so does my unwillingness to forgive.

The Lord’s prayer is an example of that Communal Relationship with God. There is no I, me or mine in the prayer that Jesus Himself taught us, only weus and our.

If you want to read more about how we should confess the sins of our community, or ancestors, read the prayers of repentance by Nehemiah (Chapter 1) or Daniel (Chapter 9). I don’t believe confessing the sins of our community and/or ancestors affects my salvation (Individual Accountability) but I do believe confessing those sins allows God to bless the community and I join in because God set the example in the prayer that Jesus taught us and He inspired Daniel & Nehemiah to do the same.

(Community Accountability = I am a part of a group. My opinions, what I say and do will affect my group so they expect me to be mindful of them and keep me accountable to follow the expectations of the group.)

Published Aug 6, 2020

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