Membership is defined as the state or status of being a member. A member is defined as one of the individuals composing a group, a part of a whole. A member is also defined as a person baptized or enrolled in a church.
To be a member of something, one must join that something. For example, I am a lifetime member of the American Legion; a membership for which I paid. I am also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives; another membership that I paid for.
There are countless organizations that a person can be a member of, with a majority of them a person has to pay some type of dues to gain access. As far as church membership, undoubtedly there are many religious denominations that require a person to perform some type of ritual or act to become a member of that denomination.
I remember years ago when I would attend services at a church that I liked, I had to stand before the congregation and ask to join the church body. It would be voted on by that church body if they would accept me as a member.
At other churches, a “membership” card was passed out for people to fill out if they wanted to join that church. Why do religious denominations do that? — have a person do something to join “the church”?
What Is the Significance of a Church Membership?
In this passage of Scripture, Peter is describing the living building stones for God’s house. In portraying the church as God's structured building, Peter draws on a few Old Testament texts that were recognizable to his Jewish Christian readers: Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 28:16.
The readers would have perceived that Israel was the chief cornerstone; presently Peter applies this analogy to Christ. By and by Peter shows that the church does not do away with the Jewish legacy, however, satisfies it.
Peter depicts the church as a living sanctuary: the foundation is Christ, and every Christian is a stone. Paul depicts it as a body: Christ is the head, and every believer is a body part (Ephesians 2:21; 4:15-16). The two pictures accentuate community.
One stone is not a sanctuary or even a divider; one body part is futile without the others. In our individualistic culture, it is not difficult to fail to remember our relationship with different Christians.
When God calls us to an undertaking, we ought to recollect that He is likewise calling others to collaborate with us. Together our endeavors will be increased. We are to search for those individuals and go along with them to help build a wonderful house for God.
Certainly, Peter frequently thought about Jesus' words to him just after he admitted that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God." "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:16-18).
What is the stone that is profoundly important in the structure of the church? Peter answers Christ himself. What are the attributes of Christ, the Cornerstone? He is dependable, He is valuable to believers, and, however, dismissed by some, He is the piece that makes the church (Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20).
Jesus Christ is called “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense” (Isaiah 8:14; Romans 9:32-33). Some will stagger (stumble) over Him since they reject Him or decline to accept that He is who He says He is (Matthew 21:42).
Yet Psalm 118:22 says that “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;” the main piece of God's building, which is the church. Similarly, today individuals who will not trust in Christ have committed the greatest error in their lives.
They have stumbled over the One who could save them and give significance to their lives, and they have fallen into God's hands for judgment.
Are Believers Called to Be Church Members?
Christians at times discuss “the priesthood of all believers” (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 61:6, 66:21). In Old Testament times, individuals did not move toward God straightforwardly. A priest went as the go-between among God and corrupt man. With Christ's triumph on the cross, that changed.
Presently, we can come straightforwardly into God's presence unafraid (Hebrews 4:16), and we are given the obligation of carrying others to Him likewise (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). When we are joined with Christ as members of His body, we are to participate in His consecrated work of reuniting man with God.
People frequently base their self-idea on their achievements, however, our relationship with Christ is definitely more significant than our positions, our triumphs, our abundance, or our insight.
We have been picked by God as His own, and we have been called to be a representative of Him to other people. We are to recall that our qualities come from being one of God's children, not from what we can accomplish. We have worth due to what God does, not in light of what we do (Hosea 1:10; 2:23).
The Old Testament prophet Hosea was a living image of God's readiness to forgive sin and to recover humanity. Despite the fact that Hosea's wife was continually untrustworthy, he pardoned her and protected her from an existence of subjugation.
Like Israel, all Christians together, the church, have been changed. Previously, we were not a people group. We had a place with ourselves and served just our own longings. Nevertheless, in Christ, we have turned into God's children. We have a purpose and a reason.
Previously, had mercy not been given to us, we would have gotten the full punishment for our evil decisions. However, through faith in Christ, we have received benevolent mercy.
Our status has been for all time changed. We are not looking for and expecting to turn into God's children and to receive mercy. In Christ, we are God's children. We are joint-heirs with Christ.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:17).
Why Does Church Membership Matter?
This passage of Scripture depicts the spiritual house of God as a building. Jesus is the perfect stone for the foundation of the house God has chosen. The people who trust in Him are likewise living stones used to assemble the house.
What is more, we independently fill in as both the ministers and our lives offered as living sacrifices to the Creator. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
Consequently, we should continue with living our lives as best we can, as outsiders on this planet getting ready to return home to be with our Father, occupied in a fight against our longing to sin.
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Chris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service.