Written by Peter Blanch
How many memberships do you have to renew each year? How many clubs do you belong to? I’ve lost count of the cards in my wallet that remind me I am a member of the NRMA, Athlete’s foot, the Blood Bank, Anaconda, Myer … the list goes on. Most of these groups I only join to get my special discounts. I hardly ever remember which groups I’m a member of, and I think about them only when the cards all fall out of my wallet, or I get a renewal notice in the mail.
To be a member of a church is radically different to any other membership you could have. Being a member of God’s church is your identity in Christ. It changes your future, your hopes, your thoughts, your actions and it completely changes your relationships. Because, membership with God’s church means belonging to God and therefore belonging to each other.
God has called us into his family for a purpose – he has gathered us together to display his glory. We are no longer mere creatures as Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden – God has far surpassed that – in Christ we are adopted into his family as his sons and daughters. You cannot get closer to God than to be his child. You cannot want for any more affection than what he has lavished on us through Jesus. This membership in God’s family has enormous benefits but also enormous responsibilities.
Part of the responsibilities come in our relationships with other members of God’s family. If you confess Jesus Christ as Lord, then you belong to Christ. You are part of his body – you are a member of God’s family. And when you’re in God’s family, you belong to everyone else in God’s family. We cannot be indifferent to each other – no matter who you are, no matter what background you have, no matter what sins God has forgiven you, no matter how you assess your own giftedness – if Jesus is your Lord then you are in the family of God and together we are locked in for eternity. There is no “annual renewal” of this membership. Jesus has secured us forever.
In making us members of his family in Christ, God wants us not only to belong to him, but for us to belong to each other. In the gospel, Jesus demonstrates what this looks like. In the gospel, Jesus says to us – “You belong to me and so you matter to me – I want to know you and be known by you. You are my family who I love to serve. I will lay down my life for you, to work for your good.” Jesus sets the pattern as he relates to us as our brother. He shows us how we can relate to him, and to others within our church family.
So, part of the responsibilities in our membership with God and with each other is to make every effort to love each other like Jesus loves us. But we are so different! How can we all get along? Don’t differences cause disunity? It need not be the case in God’s family. Just as the human body is made up of all sorts of parts – head, legs, nose, teeth, feet… so it is with Jesus’ body. Many different parts combine to work together as one. Our differences don’t have to cause division. Our differences contribute to the body as a whole. As the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:
1 Corinthians 12:12
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
This is so helpful for us as we consider what it means to be a member of a church family like our church family here at Wagga Evangelical. Differences are necessary – for without differences we cannot operate properly. Differences do not mean disunity but blessing to the whole body, because God’s Spirit is in each one of us, working for the good of all of us. This means that whether you feel it or not, you are needed in our church family. There are no second class citizens in the body of Christ, so there are no second class citizens in our Wagga Evangelical church family. Everyone is needed regardless of how they feel. There are no “silent members” in Christ’s body. God has put you here for the good of all of us. We all need each other if the body of Christ is to thrive.
In Christ we belong, regardless of how we feel. If you are in Christ and in our church family here at Wagga then we belong to each other. In Christ, once we belong, we always belong. You belong if you haven’t quite settled in yet. You belong if you haven’t found a best friend at church yet. You belong even if you haven’t found a way to serve. You belong because you are part of a body that operates as a unit.
We bring glory to God when we give expression to our membership of his family in a genuine and heartfelt manner. Make the most of your time together today with the body of Christ and welcome each other as genuine family. Put aside your preferences and get to know someone you haven’t met before – they belong to you and you belong to them – you need them and they need you!