Joining The Church or Following The Lord?
Jesus calls us to follow Him. Are you and I following Him? or Have we settled for something less?
When we speak about church membership, we must ask ourselves, "Where does Jesus fit in? Is He at the centre of our life? or Has He been sidelined, while we settle for something less than following Him?"
Let's think about church membership. What does it mean to us?
- (1) There is the church member who joined the church because thus is what other people were doing at the time. It was never really anything to do with following Jesus. It was more about following the crowd. When the crowd drifts away from the church, so does this kind of church member. How different is the true disciple who says, "If no one joins me, still I will follow.
- (2) There is the church member who joined the church because he was interested in the activities associated with the church. This kind of church member is a great enthusiast for his own particular organization, but he shows no enthusiasm for following Jesus. He may give the appearance of worshipping the Lord, but, sadly, the worship of God comes a very poor second to the other activities. This kind of church member may be very dedicated to a particular organization, but he has not learned the attitude if the true disciple - "My goal is God Himself"; "Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified."
- (3) There is the church member who joined the church because he had an interest in religion. He will never tire of speaking of "my church" and "my minister", but he does not speak of "my Saviour." When the conversation begins to get close to personal faith in Christ, he finds it remarkably easy to take it back to the church and the minister. An interest in religion is not the same as commitment to Jesus Christ. However much he may to steer conversation away from personal commitment to Christ, this type of person needs to hear the words that were spoken to Nicodemus by Jesus: "You must be born again" (John 3:3).
- (4) There is the church member who has joined the church on the basis of a total misunderstanding of Jesus Christ and His message. He sees Jesus as an example and a teacher, but he hasn't even begun to see Jesus for what He really is - the Saviour of sinners.
If we were to take out of the church, all of these different types of church member, I wonder how many people we would have left. I fear that we would be left with very few.
The question each of us must face is this: Am I following Jesus?
- If we are to answer this question honestly, we must ask a second question: What is the true reason for following Jesus?
Peter gave us a great answer to this question: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69).
Here, we have Gospel truth.
- Peter says, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" because he realizes that he cannot save himself.
- Peter says, "You have the words of eternal life." He makes it very clear that he needs Jesus as his Saviour. What Peter could not do for himself, only Jesus could do for him.
May I ask you about yourself? Have you ever taken your stand alongside Peter? Have you ever acknowledged, honestly, before God that you are a sinner, totally unable to save yourself and totally dependent on Jesus Christ as your only Saviour?. Have you ever truly said to the Lord Jesus Christ, "Thou must save, and Thou alone"?
Here, we have the heart of the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the mighty Saviour of needy sinners: "He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him" (Hebrews 7:25).
Jesus Christ offers Himself to you as your Saviour. With Himself, He offers you the gift of eternal life, to be received by faith in Him.
Don't be content with believing that Jesus, the Son of God, is your teacher and example. Receive Him as your Saviour. Believe that He died for your sins. Believe that He is able to deliver you both the guilt and the power of sin. Commit your life to Him.
So many people are going away from Jesus. He asks each one of us, "Will you also go away?"
Make sure that you respond to him with the great words of Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words if eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69).