Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
1 Cor. 12:27
I believe that when Christ purges His Church, some of the things we cherish most will be the first to be purged. Consider how many churches cherish membership. It seems reasonable and is taken for granted. New members are welcomed and made to feel like part of the body, but which body? The Bible mandates membership only in one body—the Body of Christ—the collective body of believers everywhere known as the Church.
The Larger Body
The Apostle Paul was God’s chosen messenger for this Church. He alone revealed the glories of this heaven-bound body, and his emphasis was on the larger body, the One New Man, where Jews and Gentile shed their former identity and become a new creation in which all the members belong to all the others (Rom. 12:5). For practical purposes, individuals would gather together into localized groups, but they were to be part of the larger body, caring for and praying for the other groups around the world.
They Became Self-Focused
Over the years, these house churches must have lost sight of the bigger picture and began focusing on themselves. They became entities unto themselves and isolated themselves. They came to view their local assembly as the body of Christ, and they thought in these terms. Perhaps this is how local church membership began. Whatever the case, it is prevalent today and cherished as an outward display of commitment. Other organizations require membership. Why not the local church?
Denominations were Born
For the reasons just mentioned, I believe membership in local assemblies is unscriptural, and for good reason. Once membership in local assemblies took root, it was inevitable that additional divisions would follow. Those with different opinions or different interpretations would be drawn together into likeminded groups. These groups became so large that entire Denominations were formed, sometimes with divisions within themselves.
We Think in Terms of our Local Church
We have come to accept these as the norm. Those local churches that don’t align with any of the major denominations have been labeled as non-denominational. No matter what local church you belong to or attend, you likely see yourself as part of anything except the Body of Christ. You are taught to think in terms of the local assembly. It’s no wonder the Church in the West has become like the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) with Christ standing outside waiting to be invited into His own church (v. 20).
The “greater works” promised by Jesus before He departed to heaven will probably be performed by those who have resisted the local focus and see themselves as members in the Body of Christ. As things heat up, I believe that like-minded believers from various churches will come together in their own house church. If you can see the problem with local church membership, imagine what else will be on the chopping block as Christ purges and builds His Church.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
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