Thoughts on Pastor Shaun's Sermon on Membership
This past week at my local church Pastor Shaun (our lead pastor) preached on the importance of local church membership. The crux of his message was that Christians must grow in their love for the local church;
(a) because God commands us to love His bride; and
(b) because it is a great testimony to the onlooking, cynical world. (John 13:35)
The way we do this best is by practicing the 59 (give or take) "one anothers" mentioned in Scripture. What I'd like to do in this brief article is zoom in on one particular 'one another' Shaun emphasized and give further thoughts on it.
Paul says in Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Who is Paul speaking to? He isn't speaking to the church universal. The epistles were written to local churches. There is no way to practice the 'one another' commands with the invisible church. Paul expects believers to bear the burdens of other believers in their specific, visible local church. Paul, therefore, writes to a specific church body- the church of Galatia and instructs them to bear each other's burdens.
Think about this for a moment. How can we learn to bear each other's burdens if we aren't committed to a people committed to Jesus? How can we learn to bear each other's burdens if we are perpetually 'church shopping' or absent from the Lord's Day worship week in and week out? The simple truth is, you can't. God has designed His 'one anothers' in such a way that they can not be practiced in isolation or detached from an actual local church. God has designed the Christian faith in such a way that one cannot persevere in it apart from God's bride.
So what kind of burdens do we bear in the context of the local church? I can think of three main ways we bear one another's burdens. We bear one another's burdens as we suffer (physically/spiritually). We bear the burdens of folk's sins as they seek to repent and be restored to God. We bear one another's burdens as we persevere with those who have wounded us (1 Peter 4:8). So believers, bear with one another so that you may bear one another's burdens. It is truly a gift from God.