From Believing In Jesus to Belonging To His Church

Grace For The Journey

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7MarIf you are a disciple of Christ, do you know what happened when you asked Jesus to saved you from your sin and surrendered to him as Lord?

You were engrafted into the body of believers

And immediately went from believing to belonging.

As someone has so beautifully said,

“You were saved as an individual,

But you were saved to community.”

This truth is troubling for many in a society that prizes independence and individualism.  We live in a culture where the demands and desires of the individual trump the demands and desires of the community, group, organization, or family.  It is not uncommon to hear new believers admit that they fear losing their independence to the church; they’ll say things like, “I love Jesus but not the church” and “I am spiritual but in no way religious.”  When people say such things, they are actually asserting that they have no interest in giving up their own personal rights, desires, wants, and preferences to anyone, including the visible expression of the Body of Christ, the local church family.  It is the clear and present evidence of a self-centeredness that has a stranglehold on them.

I’m a pastor, and I have heard, a great many horror stories of believers who have been hurt by the church . . . I have even been involved in one or two.  It has been said – all too often with complete justification – that the church shoots its wounded.  Christians can be mean and hurtful.  I know; I’m part of the church, and the church is made up of broken, fearful, hurting people just like me and you.  Yet . . .

The church is the Body of Christ,

And

We simply cannot have

The Head without His body.

Jesus intended our salvation to be worked out in the context of community.  Remember, the message of our salvation ends with a wedding (Revelation 19:6-9), and I have never seen or officiated at a wedding with only one person present.  A wedding is a celebration of hearts being united to beat as one, and this is the environment God has created for His people in His church: to live, love, work, grow, serve, and suffer, each for Him and His Body.

God sums this truth up in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 where the Bible says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink into one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,  and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

This really is good news!  You belong to something that transcends your own life; you are part of the family of God.  Yes, your family is a little messed up and sometimes a bit  dysfunctional, but Jesus loves them and died for them – all of them – and you are to love them . . . yes, even lay down your life for them, just as Christ loved you and laid down His life for you.

Keep in mind that the church

Is the only organization in the world

Where membership is limited

To those who are unqualified for membership.

We get in only because of the One

Who sought us, bought us, and brought us in.

One last important point: it is only as a member of the body that you will ever get to truly know your Savior.  You see, the Bible teaches that, the more of Jesus you see the more you see, interact, and relate to the ones He came to save.  You also see more of yourself and the power to live life through Christ the more you see, interact, and relate to the ones He died to save.  As someone has rightly said, “Everybody who belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus.”

Believe and belong; it’s worth the effort!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth! 

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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