Summary: What does it mean to be a church member?
Zechariah 2:8 (NRSV) 8For thus said the LORD of hosts (after his glory sent me) regarding the nations that plundered you: Truly, one who touches you touches the apple of my eye.
Colossians 3:1 - 3 (NRSV) 1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
God’s prophet Zecharaiah wrote down for us what God thinks of His people; he calls us the apple of God’s eye. That’s a great old expression.
You can see that look in a new father’s eye.
You can see that look from a Grandmother as her toddler granddaughter waddles across the floor into her arms.
You can see the apple of a man’s eye when he has just restored a ’32 Roadster.
And when it comes to “meddling” you don’t want to mess with the apple of someone’s eye!
Technically, the “apple” in that old expression is the pupil of the eye. Someone has observed that the pupil is the most sensitive part of the eye, and particularly vulnerable. Just like God rescued Israel from Egyptian slavery, as a new nation without an army, God was going to protect them. You certainly wouldn’t want to take a poke at God’s pupil!
In this series of messages on the vows of church membership we have been looking at some of what the church is called to “be and do”. We choose Christ, faithfulness, worship, witness, practice Biblical stewardship and more. This series has been somewhat like the coaching I received when I signed up to play on my high school football team:
I was taught to run precise pass-patterns so I would be in the right place to catch the ball thrown by the quarterback.
I was taught how to tackle (mostly so I could stop the other guy after I fumbled the ball).
But the larger picture was that everyone on the team worked on football skills because we wanted to win the game. We were not playing for $20 million a year plus bonuses; we played because it was our school and our honor and privilege.
The church, the apple of God’s eye is like that. Our souls are united with God, and we are his! Just as I was part of that school, and my education was bound up and hid in the halls of Hauppauge High School, so a Christian is bound up with God by his eternal soul. It happened at the cross where we died, and then were resurrected with Christ. Our lives are hid with Christ in God.
So Paul connects Zechariah’s imagery with his letter to the Colossian believers. Like a good coach Paul reveals the game plan: “Since your soul is hid with Christ, here’s the way you are to play; here’s what to do with your hearts and minds – look above for directions.
Set your HEART on Christ
To “seek the things above” is an expression that says put your love, emotions and desires on following Christ. The heart is our expression of affection. Paul is saying, “Love Christ; follow him and serve him with your whole heart”. In this you respond to his love by loving others. And he also says:
Set your MIND on Christ
This second expression is the mind, or our will – that part of our intellect which makes choices and decisions. Paul says that if our hearts, our affections are on Christ, the mind will make decisions of the will that show this heart.
It is like the old struggle to show how faith and works are connected. We are saved by grace through faith, and not our works. But a faith that does not have works isn’t a genuine faith. Faith resides in our hearts, not our intellects. Our minds cannot “figure out” Christ and his sacrifice – faith is a leap into the unknown, trusting that Jesus is true! You believe with your heart; the decision to act on that belief is made with your will.
This is the resurrection life – Faith tells us Jesus died for us, and our affection responds to him in our heart. Our heart is warmed and filled with Christ’s love, and our mind, our will responds by following Christ as a disciple.
Fulfilling the Vows
This is what it is like to fulfill the vows of Church membership. We make the choices of serving, faithfulness, stewardship and worship because we are his; we are Christ’s legacy.
At some point in my Christian journey I heard for the first time that in God’s Word there are commands and there are provisions; and those two are evenly matched. For everything that God commands in his word there is a strength provided to complete that command. God will never ask you to do something in which He is not ready to stand beside you and give you strength to complete the task. Here is no different…