|American Falls at Niagara Falls|
But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin. 1 John 1:7The first epistle of John lets us in on a central feature of the Christian life. Jesus as the incarnated Divine One saves me through the sacrifice of his life--the inevitable consequence of living out the values of loving your neighbor as yourself. This action creates a new reality in me so that I live in the light of the Divine One. I live in the light but the light lives in me so that I become a beacon of the light of the Divine One. The Spirit shines through me into the world and illumines everything. This is a tremendous mystery.
Of even greater significance is that this saving light/spirit creates a shared life in which we all participate. The Divine One saves not just me as an individual but saves me as a member of the community of light and spirit. I cooperate with that Divine spirit when I live my life in a community, in light of a community. A focus on my individual advantage and welfare is not compatible with this fundamental dynamic. Perhaps that is why the stories of the earliest Christians in the New Testament are basically stories of their common life together.
Paul's conversion story might be an exception but even that moves quickly to Paul's place in a community that nourishes and forms him. Further his life of faith is one of community founding and building, not one of individual holiness, as holy as he might have been.
The saving action of Christ that we experience in the sacrament of Baptism is not an action of making an individual holy but one of incorporating an individual into a holy community. Both Christian theology and anthropology make the same point: we are all in this life together and we thrive best when we recognize this fact.