From the desk of Pastor Klaustermeier
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have several memberships. I have a Sam's Club membership, a gym membership, and a AAA membership. With all of these I pay my dues and I get special privileges. With the Sam's Club I get to buy things in bulk and for cheaper prices. For my gym membership I get to work out in their building and use their equipment, and for the membership fee I pay to AAA every year I get roadside assistance and discounts at several places. These are memberships where I simply pay a yearly predetermined fee and I get services.
I have and have had other memberships that are much different. I was a member of a softball team this past Spring. I was a member of a concert band in high school and a choir while at the seminary. I am a member of my family. And most importantly, for this newsletter article at least, I am a member of St. John's Lutheran Church.
I am sure you can see the difference in the two types of membership, can't you? In the first type, you pay a due and get a service or a discount. In the other you are a contributor and participant. In one you are only responsible for a monetary payment. In the other you are responsible for your work, time, participation, energy and attitudes toward the group and within it.
Unfortunately many members of the church as well as members of the body of Christ as a whole, treat their membership as if it were a membership to Costco or AAA. Consequently they think their offering is payment for services, whatever those services may be, and when they don't get what they want out of church, they go somewhere else to find it or quit going all together.
Today I want to challenge you to take an honest look at your own view of your church membership and, and for that matter, your membership in the body of Christ as a whole. Are you disappointed in your church membership, because you aren't getting out of it what you expected? Are you angry at your church because they aren't doing what you want? When you speak of your church do you say "they" or "we"? What have you contributed to the body of Christ lately?
All of us need to repent of treating our church membership like Sam's Club. While membership does have its privileges it does have its responsibilities as well. We remember what President Kennedy said don't we? "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." In a world where everyone seems to be out for themselves and their own best interests, Christians and the Christian church needs to be different. We need to "look not only to our own interests but also to the interest of others." (Philippians 2:4) When thinking about worship attendance, we shouldn't just think about how it affects us, but how it affects our brothers and sister in Christ as well, especially when we are absent. When we are talking about our church, we should talk about it as if it were our family, because it is.
The benefits are huge! You get to worship with fellow saints every week. When you are hurting or suffering, you can count on the members of the church to help you, to comfort you, and to lift you up. If you are in need, whether it be spiritual or physical, the church has your back and will provide for you. You literally have brothers and sister in Christ, who will care for you sometimes better than your own blood relatives will.
You have a part in that too. The biggest successes and satisfactions you will have as a member of the church is through your participation in the body of Christ and the effort you put into it. You can be a caregiver instead of just a care receiver. You can participate in the experience of worship simply by your being there and acknowledging the people around you. You can know the joy and satisfaction of helping out those in need. You can see what it feels like when you bring someone to church who has no church home and they get baptized and become part of the church family.
The reality is that 99% of it all Is just showing up. Just like your mom is so happy with just your physical presence in her home, so the body of Christ is just as happy, if not more happy, with your physical presence, not just in worship, but in the fellowship and work of the church. A few weeks ago, I and four young ladies went down to Corpus Christi to help out with hurricane clean up and relief. Since we aren't skilled in much, we weren't able to do much work, but the folks down there were just thankful that we were willing to drive all the way down there and provide the help that we did. It was a rewarding trip just based on their thankfulness, but even more so, because we were able to participate in the body of Christ.
I encourage you to get reconnected to the church if you haven't been. If you are just a passive member, look at becoming active and finding a ministry or even starting one. Become a real church member! You won't be disappointed!
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