We are called to belong, not just believe. While our relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God’s family we are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. The Bible says, “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing. We are members of his Body - the church. To Paul, being a “member” of the church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. We need to recover and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization.
For the organs of our body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to our body. The same is true for us as a part of Christ’s body. We were created for a specific role, but we will miss the second purpose of our life if we’re not attached to a living, local church. We discover our role in life through our relationships with others. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, our spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist.
The Bible says a Christ without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible says, “You belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”
Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans - “bunny believers” who hop around from one church to another without any identity, accountability, or commitment. Many believe one can be a “good Christian” without joining (or even attending) a local church, but God would strongly disagree.
Over fifty times in the New Testament the phrase “one another” or “each other” is used. We are commanded to love each other, pray for each other, honor each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other, and many other mutual tasks. This is biblical membership! There are your “family responsibilities” that God expects us to fulfill through a local fellowship.
God has a unique role for us to play in His family. This is called our “ministry”, and God has gifted us for this assignment: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” ( 1 Cor. 12:7) the local church is the place God designed for us to discover, develop and use your gifts. We may also have a wider ministry, but that is in addition to our service in a local body. Jesus has not promised to build our ministry, he has promised to build his church.
Why is it important to be involved in a local church family? Because it proves we are committed to our spiritual brothers and sisters in reality, not just in theory. God wants us to love real people, not ideal people. We can spend a lifetime searching for the perfect church, but we will never find it. We are called to love imperfect sinners, just as God does.
In acts, the Christians in Jerusalem were very specific in their commitment to each other. They were devoted to fellowship. Scripture says...”they committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, to common meal, and the prayers.”
We become a Christian by committing ourselves to Christ, but we become a church member by committing ourselves to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.
Blessings for the Journey!