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The One and the Many

What is more important, people as individuals or the people as a whole?  This question is an enigma that has perplexed mankind for ages.  A classic example is depicted by a number of people in a lifeboat with a limited supply of food.  Should one person who is injured and surely dying be given food that could sustain the lives of the others a little longer.  What is more important, the individual or the group, the one or the many? 

This question reflects a longstanding societal and political issue.  When society as a whole is favored, government tends toward a monarchy or some other form of central authority that rules over everyone.  When society as individuals are favored we get the chaos of lawlessness, in which each individual competes with everyone else for everything. 

Both situations are intolerable and what occurs over time is a perpetual vacillation from one extreme to the other.  A lawless society demands law which once established grows more and more restrictive, essentially without limit.  This leads to an oppressive totalitarian form in which individual freedom is lost.  At some point the restrictions become intolerable and the masses revolt, returning society to first freedom and soon the chaos of lawlessness.  This cycle: from slavery to a revolution to freedom to lawlessness and back to slavery, repeats without end. 

This is what a world without God is like.  The world before Christ saw a series of successive monolithic empires.  These are described in the book of Daniel where we see a series of four successive empires, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome, the last and greatest of all these empires.  This cycle was followed as each empire rose from the ashes of its predecessor going through a cyclic pattern of hardship, strength, conquest, peace, weakness and surrender to the next conquering generation. 

The coming of Christ brought faith in God which changed everything.  The Triune God brought balance and stability into the world.  Men could believe in God and live in peace with one another.  Without the Triune God in the picture, there is no stability, and society vacillates between the confusion of total chaos and the frozen rigidity of monolithic rule.

The stability of a Christian society is due to faith in God and is not possible without that faith.  It provides a resting place that is outside the world we live in.  It is remote, outside our living space and we do not need to compete for it.  It belongs to all that believe and is without limits of any sort.  God’s infinite being never runs dry.  It is sufficient for all, forever and ever.  There is no lack, no scarcity; the supply is unlimited.

God is infinite but He is also Three in One.  The plurality in the Godhead gives us the assurance that though we are united in Christ we are still individuals as we stand before God.  We are one in Christ and many as individuals under God. 

When, as with the Muslims, God is only one person, the individual does not stand before Him as an individual person.  He stands as a portion of the human race.  He loses his individuality and is no longer a person but a component, one of many identical pieces of a whole.  He can never stand alone and be his own person.

Because the true God is both One and Many (Three ln One), we can be alone with God as individuals, even though we are many.  We can be like God in this respect.  It is only in the Triune God that we have this freedom and identity.  We are made in the image of God and He is Three in One, both One and Many.  God sees us today as we will fully be one day in our new bodies, His creatures made in His image. We are one and many as He is One and Many.

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