The Present of Membership
Who would have ever believed that such a small piece of cartilage between my left hip bones would be so valuable? My father had both of his hips replaced decades ago, and his mother had her surgery in the early 1900s. I knew this was coming.
I hobbled around for a year or two until I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. I had the surgery, and three months later, you’d never be able to tell that the worn cartilage had been replaced by some bionic ball and titanium rod—only TSA workers at the airport could detect it!
That small and seemingly unimportant body part was expensive to replace, too. But the experience helped me understand Scripture in a new way.
. . . For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Cor. 12:14-20)
Our local church is the body of Christ at the corner of 96th and Towne Road. As members, we are each assigned a special role—an important part to play—to help the church look more like Jesus. This role is better realized when we love, serve, work alongside each other. It’s when we grow in grace and truth and look like more like the gospel in word and deed. There is no spiritual body part that is more important than another. Some have a higher degree of accountability, but all help to usher people into God’s presence.
One of the biggest thrills I get to see each Sunday is when bank presidents, stay-at-home moms, local senators, business owners, detectives, team owners, and professional athletes all come to serve. They are no different in purpose inside our church walls than anyone else. They are a sweet aroma of Jesus in harmony as ushers, greeters, coffee-makers, teachers, and communion servers. All are a special part of the body of Christ.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Eph. 4:15).
God doesn’t want all his people to function as spiritual hands or feet. He needs ligaments, muscle, and organs, too. The world outside can try and bottle what we have, but it pales in comparison to the glory of God and his unified church when we are operating in our all-important roles.
So, when visitors come through our doors, I simply look at them as a present from our gracious God who knew we needed them. It may be a future pastor or a retired widow who encourages other widows. It may be a future children’s teacher or a guy or gal who can help us park cars.
The presence of our added members will bring something unique to what God is already doing or will do.
“Beloved, it is the will of God that you who love Him should be numbered with His people. It is for your comfort; it is for your growth; it is for your preservation. If you belong to Christ, you should belong to Christ’s church. You owe something to the church already. By its means the preaching of the gospel has been kept alive in the world. Through its preaching you have been converted. Through some one of its members you were brought to Jesus’ feet. It is your duty and the church’s due that you should give yourself to the church by the will of God. Think it over, and see if it is not so.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Best Donation 1No. 2234, 891)