Touché May 1, 2015
Posted on May 1, 2015 by under News, Touché,

Membership – Does It Matter?

“…so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 3:10)

Pretty lofty language that Paul uses for the church, we do not hear that much these days.  More accurately we hear the strains of the great hymn about the church: “Though with a scornful wonder we see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.”  Those inside and outside of the church are drawn to Christ, but not his church.

The Apostle Paul leaves little room for this division in his letter to the Ephesians. He writes, not about the problems of the church, but God’s promise and plan for the church.  The church is: the body of Christ with him as the head,  a holy temple in the Lord, the dwelling place of God, the household of God in which we are members with the Apostles, the prophets and Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. All these metaphors speak in stark contrast to our image of the church today.

I can appreciate somebody who looks at the divisions, the hypocrisy and the pettiness of the church and says: “why bother?”  But the New Testament does not leave us room for a head without a body, a building without a cornerstone, or a God without a dwelling place. So, instead of throwing the church out and going it on our own, we are invited to discover what it means to be the church in the 21st century together.

All this lofty language leads to an invitation that may sound very mundane: we begin a new members group this Sunday at 4 PM at the home of Harvey and Barbara Jennings (see form below). It may be hard to connect the household of God with the household of Hopewell, but it is what Paul does with that small group of believers in Ephesus.  We have asked as a church whether membership matters. Isn’t it enough to simply commit to Christ?  Does one really have to make a commitment to the church?  I agree with Paul, you cannot separate the two.

Some of you have been coming for a long time and have never made that covenant. Some of you are new and wondering if HRC is worth committing to.  I understand all that may make you hesitant, but today I ask you to look through the lens of the Apostle Paul at the greater community of faith and find your place to commit to the bride of Christ (another New Testament metaphor).  I pray it is Hopewell, but know that it needs to be a tangible, flawed, mundane household of faith, for that is where God dwells. As Wesley’s hymn concludes: “Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won. O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with thee.”

In Christ, the Cornerstone, the head of the body, the bridegroom,