(ABC of church membership)
In the last two parts, we examined what the body of Christ is and the importance of church membership. We saw that church membership is synonymous with taking your place in the body of Christ. This is the place for you, It’s a place of victory. It’s a place of triumph, a place where you walk in the reality of all that the Father has provided for you in Christ. The body of Christ is not a mystery. If it was a mystery before, the physical gathering of the believers in Christ unlocks that mystery. What was invisible is now visible! The Body of Christ is spiritual and the local church gives expression to it. The term “Body” is used to describe components of completeness and stability. “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power…” (Col. 2:10) “… wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” As members of the body of Christ, you must learn how to take your place. Taking your place means you are active, not passive. If you are not a member of a local church, you are just a wanderer, just on a stroll. Your potential as a member of the body will not be realized until you become a committed member of a local church. The local church is God’s idea of transformation and functionality. The local church is about a people.
Let’s continue to look at the ABC of church membership. We stopped at the letter G in the last part.
H-High Expectations, High Contributions
As members of a local church, we should have high expectations. The kingdom of God runs on the engine of expectation. “Expectation…” they say, “…is the mother of manifestation.” As a member of a local church, if you expect more spiritual nourishment from your local church, you will receive more. And as your expectation is growing, so should your contribution. Some become members of a local church and they criticize everything. From the reception of the ushers to the preaching of the pastor. They want everything they see or hear to be perfectly done the way they have imagined it. The problem is such people are contributing little or nothing. If there is anything you observe that is not properly done, God wants you to be part of the solution. There is nothing wrong with having high expectations in church to receive, to learn and be blessed but make sure your contribution is commensurate with your expectation. How do you contribute to your local church? By joining the work force, regularly attending meetings and acting on instructions you are given.
I – Imbibe a team spirit – This is the attitude which says, “the gain, the pain, the joy, the sacrifice, the discipline that go into getting something done are all mine to partake”. Team spirit says, this is my attitude; I am in this thing with the joy of it. Every leader looks out for that person who carries the same passion that he does. Team spirit says I’m available and involved. Your default setting when you join a local church should be “I do what they do” Of course, what they do must be consistent with the written Word.
J – Joyfully serve, share and relate with others. The modus operandi of the kingdom of God is joy. Serve the Lord with gladness, the Psalmist says (Ps.100:2). When we come to church meetings, we ought to deliberately forget about our pains, sorrow, losses, challenges etc. We come rejoicing. Church gatherings ought to be a joyful place (Rom. 14:17). Don’t wear your problems on your face. We worship and serve joyfully. Our pains or challenges of life are nothing to be compared with the sacrifice of Christ for our redemption. The atmosphere we create in our meetings is determined by what everyone brings. We all have spiritual things to share and receive (I Cor.14:26).
K – Keep Yourself from Contamination – Whenever a group of people come together as a church and you are part of them, you must avoid any element of spiritual contamination or pollution. Contamination is an impurity gotten from another. It could be an offense, a bad attitude towards leadership, a lifestyle of sin etc. The church is not a place for perfect people but a place for perfecting people. We are being perfected by God’s word (II Tim. 3:16-17). Beware of those who have unrealistic expectations also. When contamination sips in, it does not only sink the individual, but it sinks the whole group gradually.
How do you Keep Yourself from Contamination?
“… but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 20-21.
He said here that our roots run deep into the soil of our faith (that is persuasion, doctrine, teaching etc) in Christ. And to do this, we must
(i) Pray in the Holy Ghost. It helps to keep your mind pure. Don’t join people in discussions that are not edifying.
(ii) Be conscious of the love of God
(iii) Stay busy – Idleness is a culture medium for gossips and contamination (2Thess. 3:10-12).
(iv) Protect ourselves – Don’t keep company with people who gossip around (2 Thess. 3:14-15). Don’t hang around those you know can infect you with their bad lifestyle.
L – Let go of any offence/bitterness/anger towards anyone – Don’t hold such against anyone. When offences come, don’t allow them to take root. Learn how to deal with offences. Offence (Grk. Skandalon) means a stumbling block, a trap, a cause to stumble. In Luke 17, Jesus said offences will come. How you handle offences determines if you are growing spiritually or not. There will be reasons to be offended. So when such opportunities present themselves, don’t become agitated. See it as a period to practice the Word of God Always apologize if someone says you wrong them. Being offended does not portray a person bad, it only shows that he/she is immature. Learn to accommodate people with their flaws. When you are offended, go meet the offender, let him/her know you were offended by an utterance or action, then the offender realizing his fault should apologize and reconciliation is initiated (Jam. 5:16).
Let me show you how offence works. It begins with bitterness which leads to unforgiveness and unforgiveness produces sep from other believers i.e. the offended stops attending meetings and this culminates in sowing seeds of division in those who listen to him/her. An offended person is a wounded person who often time goes about spreading his wounds with others. When you are offended, don’t keep it to yourself, share it with someone in authority over you preferably a pastor. Don’t go about sharing it with people you know cannot proffer a solution to it. Offences come as a reaction to something said or done by another party either consciously or otherwise. Therefore, watch it and nip it in the bud before it grows. Learn to let go (Eph. 4:25-32), be tenderhearted, forgive others as you have been forgiven in Christ. Don’t become a channel through which others get offended.
M – Mind what you say to others – Mind your words. Understanding how relationship works helps us to curtail our excesses. The bible says a friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity Prov. 17:17. Mind how you live, what you say and what you do. Live by example. Think through before you say things; don’t go to places that won’t portray you right even if you want to preach the gospel. We must be careful how we live our lives. Let your behavior not be a hindrance to others, don’t cause others to stumble because they are watching you.
…to be continued