Membership has it’s privileges. This was a slogan that we came to know through American Express. If we belong to a particular club, we can enjoy the benefits of being a member. I have been a long-time member of the YMCA and in light of that membership I get to enjoy some of the privileges. I get to go use the weights and the machines and the pool and even the steam room (that thing is incredible). Since we have a family membership, we got a discount when Nadia swam on the swim team a couple of years ago. For those who have a plus membership, they get a cooler locker room. The guy’s change room in the Sarnia Y has it’s own steam room, sauna, TV, newspapers, and loads of towels. Membership has it’s privileges.
Membership is mark five of a church moving towards health and the biggest privilege of being a member of a local church body is that you don’t have to go it alone…because you weren’t designed to. Even a quick read of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 clearly shows this but the Lone Ranger mentality of the age has snuck in the back door of the church and it’s stayed for a really long time because it’s so cultural. So many by their actions will say ‘I love Christ but I can’t stand His kids’ or ‘I love Christ but His bride…not too sure.’ I love quoting Mark Dever who has said ‘It’s impossible to answer the question what is a Christian? without ending up in a conversation about the church; at least in the Bible it is.’ The bulk of the New Testament is written to churches, not individuals, and that is the way that we need to read it and apply it.
When we join a church we are saying to our siblings in Christ that we are accountable to you. We want you to speak the truth in love to us and vice versa (Ephesians 4:15). We want the pastor to preach the Word and reprove, rebuke, and exhort us (2 Timothy 4:2) and we want to examine the Word to make sure that it lines us with what the pastor is saying (Acts 17:11). We want the elders to shepherd us (1 Peter 5:2). We want to be about making disciples (Matthew 28:19). We want to put on the party hats and blow the noisemakers when our brothers and sisters have victory but we also want to grieve and weep and pray for them and with them when they are hurting (1 Corinthians 12:26). We want to do all the one anothers that the New Testament has called us to do. We want to bring glory to God corporately (1 Peter 2:12).
On a personal note, because of strongly held biblical convictions our family left a church that I was involved in shepherding for only two and a half years and that was hard. A friend asked me if we were just gonna float for a while going from church to church to church and I said ‘are you nuts?’ We so need a body and we were in our new church home the following Sunday after my resignation. We didn’t do this blindly even though we did it quickly. We knew the church’s theology and the pastors and a few of the people before we went. Lord willing, we’ll become members of our new church really soon. Our family needs to be taught and corrected and sometimes rebuked. We need a body to celebrate with us when the water is smooth and support us when the water is rough.
I sometimes preach in places that are not my home church and I feel it on Sunday morning. Yesterday morning I was at another church while Bonita and the girls went to our new church but I felt torn. My biological family and my spiritual family were together and I was with another body. I wanted to hear my pastor preach. I wanted to see people that I genuinely missed. I truly wanted to be there and I felt it. My experience is verifying all that the New Testament has to say about the body of Christ. We are new to our church family and we so want to get to know the body. And the beauty of yesterday was driving home by myself but then joining my family and another family from our church for lunch. We enjoyed the afternoon in sweet fellowship. We so need each other…more than we know, and more than we care to admit.