I've often talked about the necessity of church membership in the past. It maybe considered something of a soap box for me. However, I am now changing the way I address the issue.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still all about membership in a local church. This is an absolute must. The Scripture requires men and women to submit to a body of elders and pursue loving support of its members.
I'm only changing the way I address the issue. I wish to speak more of covenanting with a church. I want people to see something of the solemn nature of joining a church and that church membership is more than just plopping oneself down in a pew each week.
To covenant with someone means that you are binding yourself to them. You are pledging your service and vowing to fulfill your obligations to them. It has the idea of seeking the other's prosperity.
For instance, in a wedding ceremony you covenant with you spouse. The man pledges to love, honor and esteem his wife. The woman pledges to faithfully submit to and support her husband. It is a life long relationship that is established whereby the two now become one and seek each other's good.
I want people to speak this way of the local assembly of believers. I want them to see themselves as wedded to the body of Christ and obligated to seek its welfare.
What's more, I want them to be reminded of their fidelity to that fellowship. When one covenants, he says that he is forsaking all others and give himself wholly to that one. To covenant with a church means, "I'm not going to hop around. I am not going to skip church because for any willy nilly reason. I'm going to do my best to schedule all my activities around Sunday worship so that I may worship my God and be in the midst of my beloved brethren."
Some see the Declaration of Independence merely as a neat little document where a bunch of our founders made a firm little statement to the king of England. However, it was anything but that. It was a covenant. At the end, the men resolved, "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
This last declaration clearly shows that these men were not making a statement of belief. They were covenanting before God and with each other to pursue the establishment of a new nation.
This is how we ought to understand the church and membership in it. We must pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.