We Americans have a very individual spirit. Ground into our very existence in our Declaration of Independence is the belief that each person has the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I’m all for these rights. I’m thankful to live in a country in which this is the case. However, one of the drawbacks to this belief is that we all think very individualistically in America. We all get a vote. Each of us has an opportunity to determine our own fate. With hard work, each person has an opportunity to thrive.
There is much individualism in the Bible. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). This is true of each individual human being that walks the planet. However, another central concept in the Bible is the concept of solidarity, which we can easily miss because of our independent spirit.
Solidarity means that we, as individuals, join in with the whole. We are all on the same ship and will be carried along together or sink together. For instance, we are in solidarity with Adam. When Adam sinned, we became guilty as well. Achan’s clan was in solidarity with Achan, so they died when he sinned. Americans tend to protest against these sorts of Biblical stories because of our individualistic mindset. Michael Horton wrote, “The concept of solidarity—human solidarity in Adam and Israel’s solidarity in Abraham and Moses, is basic to the biblical worldview, however alien to our own” (Michael S. Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011], 424).
Understanding solidarity is crucial for all believers in Christ, because we have solidarity with Christ. When we believe, we receive His righteousness. “The judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification” (Romans 5:16).
I recommend Chris Brauns’ book on the subject (when it comes out).