Written by Stephen Cox
Many sports teams require more of their members than our churches. Ours is a consumer culture were everything is tailored to meet our needs and satisfy our preferences. When those needs aren’t met, we can always move on to the next product, or job, or spouse.
Being a member of a church in such an environment makes a counter-cultural statement. It says “I am committed to this group of people and they are committed to me. I am here to give, more than get.”
Our vision at WWEC is growing together in Christ for God’s glory. One way that happens is through membership – seeing people love and be connected into our church family.
According to the NT the church is primarily a body of people who profess and give evidence that they have been saved by God’s grace alone, for His glory alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The collection of people committed to Christ in a local area constitute a church.
The church is the local, living, and loving collection of people who are committed to Christ and committed to each other.
Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes that being a member of a church is our ‘opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage us as well.’
Being part of God’s people can be dangerous. We are grasping hands with each other to know and be known by each other. We are agreeing to help and encourage each other when we need to be reminded of God’s work, in our lives or when we need to be challenged about major discrepancies between our talk and our walk. But God uses his people to help us grow as his disciples. And God intents us to be a committed part of helping to make disciples out of the flock of sheep He has already saved.
Being part of God’s family also helps us in evangelism. We promote the Gospel by cooperating to take it to those who have not yet heard it, and by making the Gospel visible to the world by the lives that we live. As imperfect as we are, if God’s Spirit is genuinely at work in us He will use our lives to help demonstrate to others the truth of His Gospel. This is a special role that we have as God’s people now that we won’t have in heaven – to be part of God’s plan, to take His Gospel to the world.
The way that we live our lives together brings glory to God. Remember what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16) God will get the glory for our good deeds.
If that is true of our lives individually, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to find that it is also true of our lives together as Christians. Our lives together are to mark us out as God’s people and are to bring Him praise and glory.
Being part of a church is an outward reflection of an inward love – for Christ and for His people. And, as we see so often in this life, the greatest love is rarely merely spontaneous; it is more often planned, premeditated, and characterised by commitment.
We read in Ephesians 5:25 that , “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Acts 20:28 reminds us that He “bought His church with His own blood.” If we are Christ’s followers, we too will love the church that He gave Himself for.
Let’s live our lives together so that others will hear and see the Gospel, so that weak Christians will be cared for, so that strong Christians will channel their energies in a good way, so that we might be encouraged and supported, so that God will be glorified.