What about when the local church is messy?

[Membership Series 3 of 3]

This is where membership is biblically, and really, helpful. For being a member of a local church, where we get involved in each others lives, actually helps us to grow in godliness and love one another. These things are very important to Jesus and they become more and more important to us as members of one another. For all the faults of the church that we could list, and we tend to be pretty skilled in that exercise of speck and log, we do well to remember that the church is as Charles Spurgeon said, “a sanctuary for sinners” and “the dearest place on earth”[1]

This is why we are called ‘Reforming’ Church. The group of messy sinners who make up the church are a living testimony to Jesus Christ. It’s a Christ-centred and Christ-shaped community.

It is God’s purpose for the church that He would be glorified through the church in every generation [Ephesians 3:21], and that the church will one day be a spotless bride [Ephesians 5:27]. But we are not perfect yet, that’s Jesus job. When the membership or leadership of the church becomes uninterested in Jesus Christ, the results are toxic. We are members of one another, for one another, because we are sinners saved by grace. We don’t exist for ourselves, but to love one another and care for the lost, so that we grow not necessarily to be a big church or innovative church or whatever church – but a healthy church, warts and all. Members don’t push away from the table of fellowship when things get messy, we stay in the mess because we love.

Gospel-shaped membership

Membership matters because the church matters. It’s not a salvation issue to be a member or not, but an issue of who you want to commit to as your temporary home until we enjoy the full flavor of the eternal church in heaven. Until then the local church, and membership of it, serves as a taste of what is to come. Yes it can be sweet, and sometimes sour, but that is why the church and its local membership is gospel-shaped. Membership matters in this gospel-shaped way because we believe in Jesus, belong to Jesus, and so belong to his body, the church. The church is the result of the gospel, saved and gathered and members of one another.

[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Best Donation.