The election for President of the United States is in just 7 days. And as we find ourselves knee deep in campaign commercials and controversy, I am reminded of something a friend of mine wrote a few weeks ago. As someone who was not a US citizen until the 5th grade, he has a unique perspective on not only how to be a good citizen of this country but also in the local church.
"There is a lot of noise about who we will vote for in this upcoming election. However, there is an even more important issue. What does our church look like? Who are we voting in and out of our churches for membership and who are we electing to lead our churches?
Jesus left the church, the local church to finish his work here on earth.
I became a citizen of the United States in the 5th grade. I would not let anyone take my citizenship away from me because this is the country I love. When the country of my birth rejected our family we were welcomed by the USA. Along with their acceptance came all sorts of responsibilities. I pay taxes, I obey laws and I vote in elections all so that I can be a good citizen.
In the same way every Christian should be a member of a local church, because of the privileges that come with it. It is after all HIS church for which Jesus died (Eph 5:25) and it is for his church he will return (2 Cor 11:2). It is the church which is the bride of Christ. The local church.
Let me ask you a question, if church membership is not important, then why does God even bother with the concept of church discipline. Under whose authority should you practice baptism, or receive the Lord's Supper? Unless you are part of a church body, how will you ever be under necessary leadership of a shepherd and live in community with a group of local believers? It is exactly the community that comes from a local church that allows ordinances as important as Baptism and The Lord's Supper to be performed. By becoming a member of a local church, you show the world that you are a member of the Jesus community, just like you did when you got baptized or take communion. You raise your Christian flag in identification with the God of Scripture. Sure you will not find any line in the Bible that says "Join a local church." Rather what you will find is a narrative of Scripture speaking about the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ, so you can have the privilege of joining the church. God lives within a community that cannot be broken known as the Trinity, so are we meant to live in community. Even the great commission only makes sense if you can pull someone from the drudgery of the world with its temporal distractions from the world, into the joy that is fellowship under the banner of the Lord within your local church. Let me be clear I am not saying that church membership saves you, but that just like baptism, it is a logical step of obedience to the work of Jesus on this earth.
Don't be confused by the low bar the megachurch movement has established. If you are going to be part of the community of Christ, joining a church is an essential part of that. It keeps you accountable to others, it gives you structure and leadership. The mark of a mature Christian is that he desires to be accountable, to be under the authority and leadership of a church.
Just like merely living within the borders of the United States doesn't make me an American, so just attending a church doesn't make me obedient to God's will. Because of that fact, citizenship in a local church is every bit as important to me as what it says on my passport."
Irfan is faithfully serving God in ministry. If you would like to know more about his ministry and how to pray for him, please visit http://lightoflifeinternational.org/
Are you a good citizen?