Is Church membership really that important?
Is Church membership really that important?
April 2 2017
Rev Shawn C. Lund
· Today is a day of Celebration, Today we are going to welcome a number of new members into our congregation
· Next week we are going to have another celebration with many people getting baptized in water.
· We Here at Kingdom Way have a whole lot to celebrate
· We have a great God who is doing amazing things around us.
· It’s good to celebrate!
· In todays’ message I want to endeavor to answer the question “Is Church membership really that important?”
· Turn with me to
-33The Message (MSG)
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
· I want to talk to you this morning about a marriage.
· The marriage I have in mind is not my marriage or yours.
· Nor is it the institution of marriage, which seems to be moving in dishonorable and God-ignoring directions at every turn in our country.
· No this morning, I want to talk to you about Christ's love for His bride, the Church.
· I want to speak to you about His devotion and sacrifice for what is, for Him, the unrivaled passion of His heart.
· And I want to argue that if the church means this much to Jesus, it ought to mean that much to you and me.
· In fact, I want to pick up on this analogy that Paul uses of Christ's love for the church and ask you a very important question:
Are you married or just dating the church?
· Now the difference in the two is obvious.
· Dating is a kind of trial period in a relationship where your commitments are soft, relationships are tentative, and you keep your options open.
· Marriage is a covenant relationship of devotion and sacrifice and joy.
· In marriage, you've burned the ships, there's no turning back, and you only have eyes for the one to whom you have pledged yourself.
· So I ask you again: are you married to the church?—
· fully devoted, making sacrificial investments of time and money and energy?
· Or are you just dating the church: nominally involved, partially invested, maintaining enough detachment so that if it doesn't work out the way you want, you can hit the door with no lingering obligations?
· How you answer that question will determine How much you get out of being a part of this Church
· In our Culture dating is a normal part of developing a relationship. But dating should lead to a marriage. That is the goal.
· Can you imagine a man and a woman dating indefinitely, and never committing? You would look at that and say something is wrong. Either a bad experience stunts the growth of a relationship, or a fear of commitment
· Either of which limits what they each get out of the relationship
· Church Membership is when you acknowledge the commitment you have made to a local body of believers.
It’s Not that you will always agree!
Just like no married couple agrees on everything, but your commitment forces you to find a solution, the same holds true in the church.
We may disagree, but Our commitment to God and each other, causes us to work it out.
Give each other the benefit of the doubt
describes one of the differences between two different types of people on this earth. It says,
“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”
The type of person that you are will determine how you interpret things.
If you are pure at heart, then you see things from that standpoint.
A positive person looks at the positive side.
A negative person looks at the negative side. They both saw the same thing, but they interpreted it differently.
Give people the benefit of the doubt.
You do not know everything.
Do not let your imagination run away from you.
You will be happier if you give things a better interpretation.
If someone frowns at you, it may not mean that they do not like you. It may simply mean that they were lost in thought and did not realize what “look” they had on their face.
A Christian should have the best of thoughts, because the Lord Jesus has taken all of our sins upon Himself.
We are pure because of Him and therefore our thoughts are pure thoughts because of Him.
At least that is the way that it should be and can be.
The Bible says in
, “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
You will know if you are pure by examining how you interpret things; that is, how you think about things. “Unto the pure all things are pure.”
It is vital to have a strong, growing relationship with the people of God, where you can encourage each other in Christ and pray for one another and bare each other's burdens and intervene when you see a brother or sister lapsing into sinful patterns.
Trust = Commitment
That can only happen in an atmosphere of trust, and trust only happens in when a commitment is present
As I read our text this morning you probably recognized it from a wedding or 2 that you have attended.
· I want to encourage you look beyond the secondary application to husbands to the primary application of Jesus and the church.
· There are two word pictures that make sense to us, two analogies that are obvious in this passage.
I. The Church is the bride of Jesus
· The whole context of this passage about marriage has this model of Christ's passion for His bride, the Church, as its foundation.
· And the point is powerful: Jesus wholeheartedly, unconditionally loves His Church.
You know there is a moment in every wedding when the bride walks down the aisle to her groom. Everyone rises to their feet as the music soars and all eyes turn to see the bride - radiant, beautiful, adorned in white, she seems to float past on her way to the man who has captured her heart.
As a pastor, I have a unique vantage point for this special moment. I get to stand in the center of that aisle alongside the groom, so I get to the best view in the house. Tell you what I like to do: I always cut a look over at the groom's face. He is grinning from ear to ear in anticipation, wistful, unspeakably happy, lost in love for the one who is coming to pledge herself to him.
· Now listen, if you can see that look on the groom's face, then you have a small understanding of the intensity of Christ's love for His church.
· What makes this passage even more striking for me is that I am part of His church.
· The church in the Bible is made up of those who have been called out by the Spirit of Christ to salvation.
· The church is God's people.
· It's you and me and every believer in every place around this world who has put their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
· The truth is when you read that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, you might as well be reading, "Jesus loves me like that."
· It becomes intensely personal to meditate on the words Christ loved the church when I see that I am included among those He loves.
· And it strikes me when I see that the Greek word for love that Paul uses here describes immediately takes me to the cross.
· It is the word agape, which refers to the absolute, un-self-centered sacrifice of Christ for my sake.
· His love for His me never quits, never waivers, never weakens.
· And then I read that He gave Himself for His bride, and I count the cost He has personally undertook.
· The wording here speaks of voluntary surrender and total commitment to the horrors of bearing my sins in His body on the cross to ransom me from slavery to sin and take me to Himself.
· The broken body and shed blood of Christ are the measure of how far He will go for me.
· And when I read that His holy love for the church moved Him with purpose to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word, I am thrilled to see my complete forgiveness in those words, my justification accomplished at His Word, and the gentle, patient work of making me holy like Himself.
· Christ is totally committed to the church.
· He is totally committed to me.
· Can I receive love like that from Him as an imperfect person He is sanctifying while ignoring the rest of what His love has purchased
· You know what I've found in my life: the more like Christ I become, the more I love what He loves and devote myself to what moves Him to action.
· Say what you want to say, but you know it's true. If you're going to be like Jesus, you won't date the church anymore.
· And you won't stumble over the imperfections that are going to happen when a group of imperfect people gather together.
· You'll just realize that it has its flaws, but it's what Jesus died for.
II. The Church is the body of Christ
· In v. 25, the church is the wife of Jesus Christ.
· But in v. 30, the church is called the Body of Christ: we are members of His body, it says. Paul changes the imagery to emphasize something important.
· The image of the bride tells us deep things about the devotion and love of Christ Jesus for us, His bride.
· The image of the body of Christ reminds us that we have an assignment to fulfill.
· When Jesus bodily walked this earth, He moved from place to place in a small geographical area, doing the will of the Heavenly Father and securing the salvation of everyone who believes.
· Now, having ascended back to heaven, He still moves from place to place, only now on a global scale. How does He do it? Through us! We are His body!
· expands on this picture when it explains, by telling us that God the Father has put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
· Like the fingers and toes, like the eyes and elbows of your physical body, you are a part of Christ's body on earth, which is the church.
· And just like the various parts of your physical body have a specific function in relation to your body, so you have a specific function in Christ's body!
· There is no unimportant member of the church.
· Each of us has a function to fulfill for the good of the whole body.
· If I do you job…the church fails
· If you try to do my Job….the church Fails
· Success only comes when each person does what God has called them to do
· speaks about the body being built up in love as each part is working properly (v. 16).
· Paul plays with this analogy a bit in his letter to the Corinthians:
If the foot should say, "Because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body," in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I'm not an eye, I don't belong to the body," in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. ()
· Run with me on this, okay? Let's say for the sake of illustration that when God saved you,
· He made you a hand in His body.
· You have the gift of service that is meant to minister to the rest of the body by assisting and fixing and working.
· You are the oil in the machinery that keeps things running smoothly.
· So what happens when you say, "I love you Jesus, but I don't want to be a part of His church"?
· That's like saying, "Jesus, I love you, but I don't want to be a part of Your body.
· So I'm cutting off Your hand from Your body. But hey I really love you, okay!?"
· How would that work out for your physical body if your body parts did a little mutiny? "
· As your big toe, let me just say that I'm sick and tired of working with these other toes.
· They're all a bunch of posers! I do most of the work, and they still get treated as equals.
· So I think I'm just going to take a break. You don't really need me anyway."
· You get the point. If you're a Christian, you have an assignment to fulfill in the body of Christ.
· He's on the move and needs every member of His body in on what He's doing.
· So when you're missing in action, half-hearted, casually committed, the rest of the body is crippled and weakened.
Everyone has something they are called to do within the Body
Part of our job as Pastors is to help you find your role.
We are to equip the Saints for Ministry
Your role will be something you Love, something that fits and completes you
that does not mean, it will not have struggles. but you will be fulfilled by it, As it is was you were designed to be
· calls us to a different value system when it comes to the church.
"And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
· For this church to be all God wants it to be, each member needs to be working properly, needs to be connected, needs to be participating, sharing the burdens and the joys together.
· Most of you here today are living examples of this message, and I cannot thank you enough for your example, your partnership, your stewardship of life for His sake.