OceanSide church of Christ
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ARE YOU A MEMBER, OR NOT?
Victor M. Eskew
The church is a divine institution. It was planned by God in eternity (Eph. 3:8-11). It was brought into existence on the day of Pentecost following our Lord’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:47). God calls men through the gospel to become members of the church (II Thess. 2:14). He does not force men to become members. He persuades them. It is a matter of choice for all. When we obey the gospel, we become members of the church, the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit are we call baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13). “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Cor. 12:27).
To all those who have obeyed the gospel, we ask the question: “Are you members, or not?” Members of organizations are marked by several positive qualities. Let’s look at some of these characteristics. First, they cherish the organization of which they are members. The word “cherish” means “to treat as dear” and “to feel love for.” In Ephesians 5:29, we learn that Jesus cherishes the church. He has a tender love and deep sense of care and concern for His body. Members of the body of Christ should have these same feelings for the church. The church should constantly be on their minds. It should be an organization for which they desire the best. A person who truly cherishes the church stands on alert at all times to assist and make the church successful.
Second, members of organizations are usually committed to it. This writer has been a member of Rotary in the past. There were approximately fifty men and women who were members. These individuals were committed to Rotary. They paid their dues. They came to the weekly meetings. The participated in fund raisers. They cast their votes when new leaders were elected. They were not haphazard and flippant about the club. They made the choice to join and they were committed. In like manner, members of the church should be committed. Each one of us voluntarily obeyed the gospel of Christ. When we did, we pledged our loyalty to Christ and His body. We committed ourselves to a life of service as a member of the church of Christ. Paul is a wonderful illustration. Once he obeyed the gospel, we see his zeal for the body of Christ throughout the remainder of his life. We should follow in his footsteps (See I Cor. 11:1).
Third, members of organizations participate in the functions of the organization. Organizations are supposed to be living organisms. They are filled with people who are active and alive in bringing the organization’s goals to fruition. They know that if they fail to participate the organization will deteriorate, and, possibly die. The life of the group depends on them. The same is true of members of the body of Christ. As members, we should always be active in the work of the body. We should constantly be laboring and serving to make the body of Christ thrive within the community. If the members fail to labor as they should, the church will go into decline. In some places, churches have had to close their doors because of inactivity. Such a thing will not occur if members are active and alive, constantly moving the organization forward. The church in Thessalonica has always been an inspirational church to this writer. The members were extremely active. In I Thessalonians 1:3, Paul said he remembered three things about them, their “work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope.” In that same chapter, he writes of them: “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything” (I Thess. 1:8). Thessalonica had members who participated in the work of the church. Their participation caused the church to be known throughout the world.
Fourth, members of organizations are usually willing to sacrifice for the organization. Three things are commonly sacrificed: time, talents, and money. Members of organizations who love the group do not mind giving to the group. They understand that these sacrifices are beneficial to the group and to others as well. Members of the church should be willing to sacrifice for the body of Christ. Paul’s attitude should be the attitude of us all. “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…” (II Cor. 12:15). Paul was not the only member of the early church who was willing to sacrifice for the church. The first converts in the city of Jerusalem were willing to give up things for their brothers and sisters in Christ. In Acts 4:34-37, we read about their example. “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands and houses sold them, they brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation,) a Levite and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Fifth, member of organizations promote their organization to others. The reason I became a member of Rotary was because one of the members invited me to become part of the club. He invited me to go to the meetings a couple of times. When I went, he paid for my lunch. While there, he introduced me to several of the other members. This man had been in Rotary over 50 years. His health was failing. He knew that if Rotary was to continue to thrive others had to be brought into the group. This is true of the church. Good members want the church to grow. They want it to continue into the future. They are proud of the beliefs and activities of the church. Thus, they promote it to others. They invite them to be a part. They seek to teach others about its principles. They know that without this type of activity the church will decline.
We understand that the church is much more precious than a social club designed by men. This should only strengthen the resolve of its members to do the things we have mentioned in this article. Every member needs to pause from time to time to examine himself (II Cor. 13:5). We need to ask ourselves: “Do my actions reveal that I am an active member of the local congregation, or not?” Do you cherish the church of which you are a part? Are you committed to the church in your locale? Do you fervently participate in the works of the church? Do you sacrifice you time, talents, and money for the body of Christ? Do you promote the church to other individuals? Dear reader, it is easy to become a member of the church. It is much more difficult to show yourself to be a member every day of your life. Question: “Are you a member, or not?”