Perhaps from the get go we are doubly at a disadvantage living in the West: not only do we have to battle the predilection of the flesh toward SELF, but we also have to equally battle a culture that is all about promoting the SELF.
So when we read a text like Philippians 2:12-13, our tendency is to individualize the text. What do I mean? Well, let me pose this question to you, How many times have we heard someone say, “I need to work out MY OWN own salvation with fear and trembling,” turning Paul’s plurals to singulars–thus mitigating Paul’s instruction to make something as massive as salvation a community affair.
I can multiply this tendency to turn Paul’s plurals into singulars a thousand times (see the famous Philippians 4:4 and how we tend to read it). However, I will end with this: for the Apostle Paul, union with Christ also means union with his people, the church, a community of believers–so much so that when we sin against one another, we are sinning against Christ himself (1 Corinthians 8:12).