Sunday, August 05, 2007


What is the meaning of membership?

In the secular world, when we become a member of group, we gain access to special privileges. Join a golf group, and receive a monthly magazine. Join a country club, and be given access to the dining room. As American Express says, "Membership has its privileges."

Membership in a church is a different matter entirely.

When my son was born, he was welcomed into our church. While it may not take a village to raise a child, a community makes it much easier. They bought him a high chair his first week of life. They welcomed him at his baptism, they have nurtured him in the faith. They applauded when he sang with the kid's chorus, and they affirmed him when he took part in worship. They have loved him as part of this body of Christ.

A couple of years ago, he went through a confirmation class. At the end of that class, he became a member of the church. After that happened, did they love him any more? Any better? Did their responsibilities to him increase? No. His membership vows did not change the way he was seen as a part of this body.

Then what is the purpose of vows of membership? A membership vow is an opportunity for a member of the body of Christ to state his commitment -- his commitment to God. Does that really affect his standing in the body of Christ? No. He was made a part of the body by the death of Christ.

We are called to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Does a membership vow make a person more of a neighbor? No.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

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