Article by Pastor Tom DrionPastor at GraceLife London
We live in a day when people want all sorts of privileges without commitment or responsibility. They want sex without marriage; money without hard work; job satisfaction without stress; job security without company loyalty; family fun without working at relationships.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Christians today have a problem with committing to church-membership, after all, we’ve grown up in our selfish, pleasure oriented society, and we tend to bring those attitudes into the Christian life… but for everyone who truly loves Christ, it’s what HE thinks about church membership that matters! So what does the Bible teach about church membership?
While there’s no single verse that commands it, membership IS implied by the Bible’s teaching about the church, and it’s assumed that every true Christian would automatically want to be visibly committed to the local church.
Think about it, in the Bible the church is pictured as:
A body you need to play your part in
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4-5)
The same truth is repeated to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12, and it’s very clear from the context that this is referring to the local church in Corinth.
Each Christian is supposed to be a member of a local church, using their gifts to play their part in the body.
A bride you need to take an interest in
In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul uses the bride metaphor to speak of the local church in Corinth, and he used the same picture to speak about the relationship between Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:31-32.
Christ is interested in his bride, and pastors like Paul are keen to present the church to Christ as a pure bride… but how about you? What’s your interest in the bride of Christ?
If 21st Century Christians could tweet their replies to Jesus’ invitations to the Kingdom of Heaven, some might go like this: “Yo Jesus, thanks 4d invite. Wud luv 2come. Don’t no bout hanging w ur bride tho. Can’t dig ur interest in her. Hang loose man.”
A house you need to take your place in
The Apostle Peter said Christians were “like living stones” who are “being built up as a spiritual house,” (1 Peter 2:5). The Bible doesn’t picture Christians like stones on their own!
A temple you need to experience God’s presence in
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about the church-building here! This is talking about the people who make up the church! Paul challenged the Corinthians “Do you not know that you (plural) are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
He went on to tell the Ephesian church that, “the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22).
A family you need to have relationships in
Jesus said “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother,” (Matthew 12:50). Paul called Christians “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
Christians are to be in relationship with their “brothers” and “sisters” in the family! They also have elders that are “their” overseers, to whom they are expected to submit (Hebrews 13:17).
The family metaphor highlights that our relationships are ones of commitment and accountability, and the instructions Jesus and Paul gave about putting people out of the church who sin and refuse to repent, show the serious accountability that comes with being part of the family (see Matthew 18:15-20, and 1 Corinthians 5).
These five metaphors used in the Bible for the church, show that being part of a local fellowship is not something optional for Christians. In the New Testament times, they counted who was in the church (Acts 2:47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7), and knew clearly who was not!
Article adapted from the sermon entitled “Can You Listen To This Sermon And Still Not Join A Local Church?” You can listen to the sermon at the following link: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=116131630504
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