What about Church Membership? Part 2
Strong and Courageous
May 17, 2018
After last week’s post, I received some interesting comments, so I would like to explore this idea of church membership further.
When I wrote the first post, I assumed that there would be some challenge because in our current culture, this is a controversial subject.
What I would like to develop is the idea that we as Christians need each other. Our walk in Christ was not meant to be a rugged, individualistic, independent lifestyle. I would point to a fairly comprehensive piece of scripture to describe how we are to function as members within the body of Christ. It is a bit lengthy but it is worth the read in the context of what we are discussing. It is in 1st Corinthians Chapter 12.
One Body with Many Members
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
The idea here is that we are all in need of being connected to one another in the context of the local church. Some may argue that this text is talking about the universal body of Christ rather than the specific church that each person attends. This is often described as “Big C” for the universal church,” Little C” for the local church. It is my contention that this scripture makes more sense in the context of a “little C” perspective. Particularly about each body part needing each other, bringing honor to those who lack, and suffering together when an individual person is suffering. This is why I make the contention that church membership is vitally important. My desire here is not to bring up controversy, but rather to help see the need that we all have for each other.
Not only do people need the local church, the church needs people in order to function properly. More specifically the local Church IS composed of the people of God walking together in unity and purpose for bringing the Kingdom of God to fruition.
Jonathan Leeman whom I quoted in last week’s entry further states “Christians possess a special power and corporate identity when formally assembled. Paul writes of when the Corinthian church is assembled and the power of the Lord Jesus is present. When they come together as a church it is as if they are somehow more “a church” when together than apart. This gathered assembly, it seems, has the power to do things, to make decisions and pronouncements on behalf of Jesus.”
Church membership may be unpopular in some circles, but the value that membership brings to how the local church is to operate should not be understated. We truly need each other in order to be complete in Christ.