The church is something most of us probably don’t spend much time thinking about, let alone meditating on what it means to be a church member, but Thom Rainer shared a blog post about a year ago entitled “I Am a Church Member.” In it he shared an interesting perspective on what it means to be a member of a local church. One paragraph focused on the idea of membership in particular:
I like the metaphor of membership. It’s not membership as in a civic organization or a country club. It’s the kind of membership given to us in 1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it.” Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, whether I am an eye, and ear, or a hand. As a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others. I will remember that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Some Christians today see church membership as nothing more than having your name on a church roll, but Scripture makes it clear that being a member of a local body of believers is much more than that. Paul describes the sharing of both suffering and honor among its members, and he indicates that the church provides us an identity, as members of Christ’s own body. If we have a relationship to Christ, it must be expressed in our relationship to our fellow Christians in the local church.
In Ephesians 5:25 we are told that “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her,” but I wonder today if we love the church the same way that Christ does. It would be impossible for me to imagine standing before Christ one day in heaven and hearing him say, “You just loved my church too much!” But, unfortunately, I believe there is a real danger that we might get to heaven only to hear him say, “I loved the church so much I gave myself for her. Why didn’t you love her, too?”