BECAUSE WE ARE MEMBERS
by Wayne S. Walker
In Ephesians 5:30 Paul wrote, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." I am sure we would all agree that when one becomes a Christian he becomes a member of the body of Christ, the universal church. "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). But the Bible also teaches the need for Christians to be members of a local congregation. In Acts 9:26 Saul of Tarsus, now a follower of Christ, "assayed to join himself to" the Jerusalem church. As His children, God wants us to associate with each other and help one another. Thus we have responsibilities to our brethren because "we are members of his body."
One thing we need to understand clearly is that there is no such thing in the scriptures as "floating membership." Some people have the idea that they can attend regularly in one place but have no responsibility there because there "membership" is somewhere else. Others feel that they can be just a "member of the church" in general, attending first one place then another as they please, with no local membership and thus no local responsibility. The truth is that one’s membership in a congregation is not a piece of paper in some filing cabinet. You are your membership and, in reality, you are a member wherever you attend regularly. However, there is additionally a need to make it know, publicly and officially, that you do desire to be a member of the congregation so that everyone may be aware of it. This is what we commonly refer to as "placing membership" or "identifying" with a congregation.
I seriously doubt that God recognizes Christians [at least for any length of time] who are not identified with a local church. They are not under the oversight of any eldership. They are not truly working with any group of Christians in doing the Lord’s will. They are not using their talents properly in teaching or public worship. But the saddest thought is that this attitude is evidence that they look upon the church as merely a place to go on Sunday–like a club or a lodge. However, the local church is actually a relationship between people who are trying to serve God. And that relationship imposes certain duties upon us. What are some of those duties.
We must work together, since Christians are to be "zealous of good works." This includes converting the lost (Acts 8:1-5); strengthening members who are weak or lax (1 Thessalonians 5:14); and restoring our unfaithful brethren (Galatians 6:1-2). We should grow together in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18); in love for one another (John 13:34-35); and in the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-3). We ought to exert the proper influence among those with whom we come in contact. The Bible calls us "the salt of the earth (and) the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-16); "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…holding forth the word of life" (Philippians 2:15-16). In order to accomplish this, we must have our "conversation honest among the Gentiles" (1 Peter 2:12). Finally, we have to give our whole-hearted support to the church. This we do by our attendance (Hebrews 10:24-25); our liberal giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2); and our submission to the elders (Hebrews 13:17).
Furthermore, the teaching and admonishing that we can do for each other in our relationship together (Colossians 3:16) helps to give us the strength that we need in accomplishing these goals for the Lord. So, what kind of member are you? Are you one that is working, growing, living right, and helping in every way you can? Or are you lazy in serving the Lord, indifferent, careless in your life, and negligent? These are questions which everyone of us needs to answer before judgement day if we hope to be prepared! (—taken from Faith and Facts; October, 1979; Vol. 7, No. 4; pp. 20-21)