The 23rd of every month is usually a sad and “painful” day for me. It’s the day my car insurance policy payment is due. With six vehicles and some teenage drivers on my policy, can you feel the pain with me? The good thing is that everyone contributes their portion of the bill. In paying the bill for May, I thought about how each of our vehicles is different, but,they have some fundamental and foundational things in common at the core.
The body style, gas mileage, and color of our Toyota Camry, VW Jetta, Toyota Corolla, Kia Sorento, Chevy Malibu, and Toyota 4 Runner are all different. However, they all have four tires, a steering wheel, seats, brakes, and an accelerator. (I would say a door handle too, but the Kia is having ishase.)
Church members come from different places, have different upbringings, are different ages, and have different gifts, talents, and abilities. However, they should have some fundamental and foundational things in common. The first is that they realize that Jesus is the only answer for helpless sinners. Church members realize that they have sinned against a holy God, but Jesus has come to live a perfect life, die on the cross, be buried and resurrected on the third day in order to redeem them. Their hope, dependence, and faith is in Jesus alone.
In the book I Am A Church Member, Thom Rainer, outlines six things about church membership that tie together with four things in First Thessalonians 5:25-28. 1) I will be a functioning church member. 2) I will be a unifying church member. 3) I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. 4) I will pray for my church leaders. 5) I will lead my family to be healthy church members. 6) I will treasure church membership as a gift.
“Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (First Thessalonians 5:25-28)
Regardless of who you are, all church members should be characterized by prayer. Praying for and with the church leaders. Paul asked the “brothers” (fellow believers in the Lord) to pray for him, Silas, and Timothy. God desires that we use the Word in our prayers and that we pray for the preaching, pastor(s)’ family, health, wisdom, discernment, encouragement, and boldness. We should also pray for other church members. Make sure your prayer time is actually spent praying, and not just taking a bunch of requests with little time for prayer.
Church members should greet one another warmly. They should be welcoming and inviting. We need other people around us to encourage us to walk with God. Travis Agnew says, “Church personalities and programs can only provide so much – you need partners alongside you.” In Luke 10 an expert in the law wants to know who his neighbor is. Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan and then asks who a neighbor was. “The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)
Jesus tells the expert in the law, instead of looking for someone to be a neighbor, you go be a neighbor. The same is true for friends. Be a friend who brings others together. Don’t just look for a friend; greet someone and introduce yourself.
Church members should read the word individually and together. Paul wanted his letter to the Thessalonians to be read to all the people in the church. Since the Word of God is powerful, contains truth, allows us to know God, and gives guidance for holy living, we should read and study it. Daily! We can’t go without food for a long time, so why do we try to go without the Bible, which gives spiritual nourishment. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Finally, church members should be characterized by grace. This is a present reality: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:28 – emphasis added) Church members should not demand their own preferences and desires. However, they should seek to promote unity and peace by offering grace. Since we have received much grace from the Lord Jesus, we should give much grace to others.
These four fundamental and foundational traits should be found among the members of Rocky Creek. If these are evident, the church will be healthy, function properly, and experience growth. If not, the church will become a sad and painful place. And the pain will be much worse than paying car insurance for six vehicles with some teenage drivers on the policy.