Summary: Me or We? – (Part 4) The Christian Lifestyle is more about WE than ME.
Membership has its privileges!
✎ I carry a couple of cards in my wallet that give me certain privileges not available to the “general public.” First is my “Sam’s Club” card. It identifies me as a member at the warehouse superstore and enables me to purchase things for the church or at home for less than what I would pay elsewhere.
✎ Second is my family membership card to the Cleveland Zoo which really saves us money! By purchasing a family membership, we spend less than if we were to buy a one day admission for the seven of us, but our membership gives us more than just a one day admission. We can return to the zoo as often as we like for one year. We also receive a 10% discount on purchases made at the zoo. The benefits don’t stop there. We can also receive free admission to other participating zoos all across the country. In addition we receive special invitations to “members only” events.
Membership is optional; it is a choice. Non-members of the zoo can still see all the animals; souvenirs are still available to be purchased. You can buy many of the same things available at Sam’s Club at other stores.
Membership has it’s privileges; it provides benefits not available to the “general public.” Granted anyone could choose to become a member at Sam’s Club or the zoo and get the same privileges, but not everyone does. In the long run non-members may be willing to pay a little more for the same thing.
Many of the same things can be said about church membership. The church is hardly a zoo (although sometimes you may wonder. . .), and the church is not a store (although some folks may choose a local church like a grocery store. . .).
Membership has its privileges; church membership is optional, but highly recommended. Why? Let’s discover some of the benefits available to members only.
+ Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and MEMBERS OF GOD’S HOUSEHOLD. (NIV)
1. Genuine membership is a SPIRITUAL REALITY, not a church membership role.
A. God accepts us as members of His family.
God is telling us that we don’t have to be outcasts any longer; we’re no longer strangers. We can be “fellow citizens” and “members of God’s household.” As the Message Bible puts it “the kingdom of faith is now your home country. . . you belong here!”
Your inclusion as members of God’s household did not happen because you choose to join a local church. You can be a member of this or any other local church, but still not be accepted by God. When your life is over your entrance into heaven will not be based upon your membership standing at the local church; heaven won’t call the church office to verify if you were still a member in good standing.
God keeps his own records as to the names of those who are members of His Church. The Bible says, “the dead, great and small, [stood] before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books . . . If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12,15 NIV).
The Bible make it plain. Take time this afternoon to read Ephesians 2:11-22 and you will discover that your birthright isn’t good enough for God. It doesn’t matter if your were born a Jew; it matters even less if your parents are Christians. It doesn’t matter what you may try to do to earn a membership in God’s family; regardless of how hard you may try to obey God’s law and live a perfect life, it won’t be good enough.
All that matters is that you are IN CHRIST. The Bible says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace . . . through him we . . . have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:13, 14, 18 NIV).
When you acknowledge by faith that Jesus’ death on the cross was for your sin, when you ask Him to forgive you of your sin and to be the Lord of your life, then–and only then–are you made a member of God’s household, a member of Christ’s body, His Church.
Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual reality at the moment of salvation. You are either in, or you’re out. You’ve either got it, or not.
+ Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as MEMBERS OF ONE BODY you were called to peace. (NIV)