In Part 1 of this blog we discussed the idea of membership society has and how church membership is a very different type of membership. You can read Part 1 of the blog here.
Each church member has a function in the church to make the church run. God gives us each unique gifts and abilities. We are to use these gifts and abilities to best serve our church for the glory of God. The fact that a church has great diversity should be seen as a strength, not as a hindrance. Everyone should be functioning. Everyone should have a role.
Paul speaks of this idea in the book of Romans.
Romans 12:3-8 (ESV)
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
When it come to the spiritual gifts that God has given us, it is essential to have the right attitude about our gifts. If we don’t think God has given us anything special to serve others with, there’s a good chance we’ll sit on the sidelines because we’ll wrongly think we have nothing important to offer. On the other hand, if we approach our gifts with an inappropriate pride, we will think that our gifts are cooler or better than what others have been given. Both of these attitudes will keep us from using the gifts we have been given in the way they were meant to be used. God gave of these gifts for a purpose. We are to use them to help others. If we choose not to use our gifts in that way, we are just misusing them.
Members of a church comprise the whole and are essential parts of it. With church membership, everyone has a role or function. We are all different, but we are necessary parts of the whole. Each part therefore has to do its work. If each part does not do its job, the whole body does not function well. But if each part does its job well, the whole body is stronger.
The way to remain a biblical member of our church is to give abundantly and to serve without hesitation. Biblical membership gives without qualification. Biblical membership views the tithes and offerings as joyous giving. There are no strings attached. Biblical church membership serves and ministers as a natural way of doing things.
Here are some quotes I found that I think speak of what church members should look like. I think each of these people would be great church members.
“God has given us two hands-one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for giving.”
“The church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities, but the body of Christ, in which all members however different…must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by those differences.”
C. S. Lewis
“The only one among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
“Small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace. To love, it is necessary to give. To give, it is necessary to be free from selfishness.”
1 Corinthians 13 is known as “the love chapter” and is read at most weddings. It was read at my wedding. It is preached and said to demonstrate a fuller meaning of unconditional love. That is great to use in that context, but when Paul originally wrote that chapter, its original purpose was to demonstrate how church members should relate to one another.
Let’s read this well-known chapter again with that context in mind.
1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We are not to love fellow church members just because they are lovable. We are to love the unlovable as well. We are not to pray for and encourage pastors just when they are doing things we like. We are to pray for them and encourage them when they do things we don’t like. We are not to serve the church only when others are joining in. We are to serve the church even if we are doing so alone.
Church membership needs to be founded on love; authentic, biblical, unconditional love. If we don’t want to approach it like that, them we really need to ask ourselves if we should be members of the church in the first place.