I Corinthians 12:26
We’re All In This Together
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
I Cor. 12:26 (Holman) So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with
it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
If one in our fellowship hurts, we all should hurt. If there is a need, we all should help. We are to support one another. There is to be give and take among us, interdependence, as brothers and sisters in Christ, as members of the same body.
The concept of membership, a vital Christian teaching since our faith began, is rooted in the New Testament. The secular world borrowed this term from us and emptied the concept of its original beauty. Membership is usually associated with having names on a dusty roll, paying dues and enduring dull rituals and petty rules.
The Bible has a more exciting image of membership. Being a church member does not entail a cold induction into an institution, but means becoming a vital organ of a living body (RM 12:5). We need to reclaim this beautiful dynamic.
The Bible says the Church is Jesus’ body (Eph.1:22f). When on Earth, He accomplished His purposes through a physical body. When He ascended, He left an innovative entity, the Church, His new body through which He continues His work. The Church embodies Christ’s hopes and plans for His future work on earth.
Christ’s Church reveals itself two ways: in the Universal Church and in local churches. The Universal Church includes all Christians everywhere (Matt. 16:18). It is a worldwide spiritual family, totally separate from any tangible organization.
Local churches are concrete at-hand expressions of the Universal Church (Acts 8:1). In small definite bodies the spiritual body expresses itself. In tangible outposts of the spiritual kingdom, the Church fulfills its functions and obligations.
As a kingdom outpost, a base to extend the kingdom, a local church trains members of the Universal Church for service (Eph. 4:11f). Each local church must evangelize its locality and be a launching pad for worldwide mission (Acts 13:1-4).
Local churches were vital in the New Testament. When converts were made, they started local bodies led by pastors and deacons. Nine New Testament books were written to local churches. The Revelation is addressed to 7 local churches.
Paul said God was creating a new entity, the Church Universal, in which all believers of all backgrounds would merge as equals. Paul had to show how God’s ideal new concept, the Church Universal, could work in the real world (Eph. 3:9a).
Paul traversed the Roman world, establishing local churches as laboratories in which the Church-Universal-Experiment was conducted. It was successful. In local churches Paul found the effective working organization of Christ’s Kingdom.
Local churches are test tubes showing us the Church Universal can succeed. Local churches are imperfect, but in the long run, no group is more useful for God.
Since the local church is where the battle is waged, we for sure need to know what is expected of members of a local church. At Second, we expect you to love God (Matt. 22:37), evidenced by a godly life. Holiness matters most. We expect you to love each other, to not be ashamed to be identified with Second. We are to be a local, loving spiritual family. Apart from church membership, we are like children without family. God does not want His children isolated from each other.
We expect you to seek to make friends in a small group in our fellowship (Acts 16:13). Every member needs a niche. Small groups are critical to meeting this necessity. People need you. They are not looking for a friendly church; they are looking for friends. In small groups in local churches, this desire can be met.
We expect you to do ministry projects and mission trips, to personally put your hand to the plow. We are not afforded the luxury of living vicariously through our church and others. We can’t feel good about missions because we are members of a mission minded church. Membership matters, but involvement is the goal.
We expect you to use your spiritual gifts and talents for our fellowship (RM 12:6), to attend worship services faithfully (HB 10:25), to give your finances joyfully and regularly (2 Cor. 9:7), to pray our church will grow (I Thess. 3:12), to invite the unchurched to attend (Acts 10:24), to welcome warmly those who visit us (Heb. 13:1-2), and to honor our church leaders by praying for them and following them as long as they follow the Holy Spirit and the Bible (HB 13:7,17).
Now the question, how can you become a member of Second? To join, you must be a Christ-Follower. A local church consists of believers having a personal relationship with Jesus. Every person needs a Savior. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No one can live up to the standard set by a holy God. Our sin creates a separation from God that can lead to eternal separation. If you have not invited Jesus into your life to forgive you, please do so today.
A Christ-Follower can become a member of Second in one of two ways. One, by baptism. If you believe in Jesus, we will receive you as a candidate for baptism by immersion in water. Two, by transfer. If you were immersed after conversion as a symbol of salvation, we will accept you as a member on transfer of your membership. If a letter of certification from a former church can be secured, our office will arrange this transfer. If no certifying letter is available, you may join Second based on your statement that you were immersed in water after conversion.
To become a member of Second, you would come forward in a Sunday worship service during the invitation hymn and share with a minister your decision to join Second. They will help you firm up your decision and answer questions.