Jesus gives a name to this institution for the first time in history in Matthew 16:18, after Peter’s confession. Jesus says “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The word church means ‘called out ones’ or assembly. A church is like no other organization on earth. It is precious to Jesus because it consists of souls he chose, loved and died for.
Often a person calling themselves a Christian might say to me: “Oh, I’m not a fan of church, it’s full of hypocrites. I worship Jesus, I sing to him, I get online sermons.”
Depending on how snarky I’m feeling I may quip, “So you love Jesus but not his Bride?”
How would you like an invitation to a dinner that said, “Bring anyone but your wife”?
Jesus isn’t blind. He knows his Bride is a little rough around the edges. But he loves her. He’s sanctifying her. And will one day present her to himself…spotless (Eph 5:25-27).
When he’s done with us, we will be unrecognizably perfect. In the meantime, it insults the Savior to snub his Bride.
- Commit to the People of the Church
1 Peter 2:5 – You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house…
The house metaphor is apropos because a house is not a stack of loosely affiliated stones, but of bricks tightly cemented into a bonded unit.
Like Lego blocks that are part of an intricate creation, individual Christians are only contributing to the spectacular worldwide Body of Christ if they are plugged into a part of it.
Membership to a local church is not commanded in Scripture, but it is assumed and implied.
Membership is assumed in the instructions to churches. When the New Testament says to submit to your elders, contribute to the needs of the saints, maintain unity in the body, serve one another, carry one another’s burdens, share communion, etc., it is assuming that you are a functioning and accepted part of a body of believers.
And membership is implied in all the descriptions of the church, which each reflect clearly defined units—household of God, and the pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12), the flock of God (1 Pet 5:2). Non-affiliated Christians are like missing family members, shaky pillars, severed limbs and lost sheep.
- Contribute to the Partnership Within the Church