OceanSide church of Christ
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Becoming an Active Member of the Local Congregation
Victor M. Eskew
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Cor. 12:27). These words were spoken to “the church of God which is at Corinth” (I Cor. 1:2). Paul compared the local congregation to a physical body. Paul did this often in his epistles to the churches (Rom. 12:4-5; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18).
A body is a harmonious unit. This unit, however, has many body parts. Each part has a job to do. Each part is vital to the operation of the body. Paul confirmed these facts about members of the body in Ephesians 4:16. “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). Paul refers to “every joint” and “every part” working together in order to make the body increase.
Within each local congregation, God expects every member to do his/her part. He expects each part to effectually work. The word “effectual” means “energy.” Each member needs to energetically work in order to build up the body of Christ. Yet, in most congregations there are members who are not working effectually. They may attend the A.M. worship service and a Bible class from time to time. They may put a little money into the contribution plate. However, they do not truly fulfill the role that God has given them in the body of Christ.
In this article, we want to exhort all inactive members to become a vital part of the body of Christ. We want to look at some steps each can take in order to be a member who is contributing to the well-being and growth of the local congregation.
The first thing that an individual must do to become an active member is to acknowledge his/her lack of contribution to the body of Christ at this point in his life. This is not easy for individuals to do. They do not like to admit faults and shortcomings. This step, however, is a must. A person needs to say: “I have not been the kind of member God desires for me to be.” If the person will confess this to God, he can be assured that God will forgive him. It was the apostle John who wrote: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
The second thing that one must do to be an active member of the body is to develop a desire to become active. Desire is nothing more than “want to.” A person must want to be active. He/she must want to find a place of work in the body of Christ. If there is no desire, the individual will not be effective. Sadly, many do not desire to be active. They are content with their slothful, lukewarm service to the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be held accountable as was the one talent man (Matt. 25:24-30). If an individual will truly study and contemplate the cross of Calvary and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, he will see the love of God shown toward him. This love should prompt love in response. This love will constrain one to serve in the precious body of Christ (II Cor. 5:14).
If an individual has a desire to serve, the third step in the process involves locating an area of work wherein one can serve. The Bible reveals that God has “set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Cor. 12:18). In other words, God has a place where each person can labor in the Lord’s vineyard. Talents, personality, and stage of maturity are all factors that can assist in making this determination. It may be that an individual has to labor in several areas before he finds a good fit.
Once a person finds a place of service, the fourth step is to develop his abilities. A teacher needs to find ways to increase his/her abilities. A person who visits the shut-ins, hospitals, or nursing homes needs to develop skills that will help him/her to relieve the burdens of those who are sick, afflicted, or lonely. Peter exhorts his readers to grow with these words: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Pet. 3:18).
The fifth step is very simple: serve. Once one has found his spot and has developed his abilities, he needs to serve day in and day out. He is desperately needed. It may be that God raised him up to serve in his position for a specific purpose (Esther 4:14). The day may come when he must quit, but as for now he should labor with all his might. Paul gave the admonition with these words: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).
The sixth and final step is one of true maturity. It is also a step that enables one to leave a legacy. This step involves teaching, training, and mentoring others to do the work in which one is involved. Paul admonished Timothy to do this. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teachers others also” (II Tim. 2:2). One day we may have to cease from our sphere of work. It is comforting to know that when that time comes we have trained someone for the task. There will not be a void. The body of Christ will continue to effectually work in the measure of every part.
In this article, we are calling upon those members who are presently inactive to become vibrant and active members of the body of Christ. We are exhorting you to take your God-given place in the body in order to help the body grow and mature. If we fail to do this, ultimately we will be cut off and cast into the fire. Jesus said: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).