Recently I wrote about some friends that had left our church. I continue wondering why, mostly knowing the answer, but have come to the conclusion they were not willing to pursue church membership and felt some pressure to do so. The pressure didn’t come from a desire to have them under a thumb or somehow repress their freedoms, although they might believe that. No, I believe the desire for membership came out of a biblical call to be under authority and willingly submit to church leadership. I’ve written about this subject once before so I won’t rehash but here is the article authority, obey, submit
Many people want church to be a part of their life, at least on Sunday, and then they want their own life, their independence and freedom to do as they please when they please. The author of Hebrews tells us this is unprofitable for them (Hebrews 13:17).
Why would it be unprofitable for them? People really get upset when their lifestyle is being challenged, especially when they are very honorable, lovely and exceptionally moral people. Possibly and probably they are saved. It really comes down to one of two things. They either are saved and in rebellion to God’s Word or they are not saved. I’ve tried to figure out some middle ground so I could think “good” thoughts, but I don’t see it any other way. Biblically I mean. This is why it’s unprofitable, whether unsaved or in rebellion, neither is a good place to be.
The simple act of rebellion certainly calls me to consider their salvation. Disclaimer: I don’t determine salvation. God will do His good pleasure and He may use this circumstance to do remarkable work in someone. That’s not my call, but if an apple tree produces thorns, it’s not an apple tree. So I must challenge them, in love, to consider their testimony.
I’ve recently commented on another blog that I follow, and really like, about church membership. I see lots of people calling it things that I don’t believe it is. I believe God designed us to be in fellowship and He clearly calls us to be under the authority of the church. Not to oppress us but to free us and to protect us.
Below are two well respected pastors that are of like mind. These are both short and very powerful. If you are struggling in this area, consider how God will work in your life when you willingly submit to His will.