‘He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works (Psalm 33:15).’
Psalm 33 is a beautiful song of hope (V. 18) for those who trust (V. 21) in the LORD. It speaks of God’s sovereignty and of His majesty. He surveys the world from heaven (V. 13) and from where He controls the affairs of men, but what is fascinating, ‘He fashions their hearts individually (V. 15).’ He knows all about them; furthermore He delivers their souls from death if they fear Him (V.V. 18, 19).
In the UK at the moment we are in the last week of campaigning before a general election; therefore we may ponder the following words from the aforementioned Psalm: ‘The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, and the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance (V.V. 10-12).’
The intricacies of God’s workings are beyond fathoming; they leave us in awe of Him. Every single individual is fashioned by Him (Job 10:8; Psalm 119:73), and He places him or her in particular situations – perhaps in a family, in a town, in a principality within a nation. But what is more significant, He adopts His loved ones into His family (Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 1:5) – that is the one true church of Jesus Christ.
This morning while trawling through Twitter, I found a tweet from a lady who said she didn’t know what denomination she belonged to, as she had associated herself with several. She was perplexed, and I can understand why, but if she is a believer, then she is a child of God (John 1:12), and she is a member of the church of Jesus. However, as yet, she has not found a local church of which she is a missing, but necessary member (1 Corinthian 12:12-27). When she does find the church, it will be confirmed to her by the Holy Spirit that she belongs there and that she has a part to play. I pray that the Spirit might lead her to that church.
From within the nations God’s people are called by Him (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14) to join with Him in local churches. They are composed of individuals in Christ, collectively joined together as His identifiable living body on earth, and His Holy Spirit dwells within them (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Every member has his or her part to play, and ‘the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 Corinthians 12:7).’ They are all gifted with talents they can use to God’s glory as they serve Him, and love one another and their neighbours as themselves.
Paul sums it up in Romans:
‘For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (Romans 12:4, 5).’
‘For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:7, 8).’
‘Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5, 6).’
Conclusion: There is no Place for Individualism
Each one of us is accountable for everything we do (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12), and although God has given us hearts, minds and bodies, He has made us [believers] to be integral members of Christ’s body, i.e., the church; therefore we must act in unison with Him and be submissive to Him and to one another (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5).
We are individuals, but we only have one character, because our identity is in Christ. We are His and He is ours. Christ is all in all (Colossians 3:11). Wherever we go, whatever we do (Galatians 3:23), whatever we think and say – along with our prayers, all of them are for honouring Him and for giving Him the glory.
Let is remember that He has placed us where we are for His purposes, i.e., to do those good works that He has preordained from before time (Ephesians 2:10). We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and lanterns of His light; we are the salt that doesn’t lose its saltiness (cf. Mark 9:50). None of these things are possible in our own strength and power, but by His enabling through the Holy Spirit.
So although we are individuals with our own unique characters, we act in obedience to Jesus (Galatians 6:2), recognising He is abundantly worthy of our love and adoration because He died to give us everlasting life (John 3:16). He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and because of this we love Him. Most importantly our identity is in Him, and expressions of our individualism that conflict with our unity in Him are no longer of any significance, as they no longer have any place in our hearts.
‘Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called (1 Corinthians 7:20).’