And to be fair, I've found more than my share of lovelies in the church, too. I have been blessed to encounter men and women, filled with the Holy Spirit of God and growing in Christ-likeness daily. People like Frances and Barbara and Beverly and Dean and Karen and Judy and Patty and Pearl and Opal and Libby and Sue.
I could go on.
The point is, there are different kinds of church members. While I won't venture into analyzing the validity of their salvation (2 Timothy 2:19 reminds me that only God knows those who are truly His or not. That's not a call I should try to make.), I do know that God's Word teaches that we will be known by our fruit. And some people aren't bearing much, fruit that is. And quite honestly, some church members even have some rotten fruit hanging from the branches of their lives.
Instead of being laden with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, they're sprouting less desirable fruit such as bitterness, anger, slander, gossip, contention, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, and unforgiveness.
Jesus told His disciples in John 13:34 that their love for one another would distinguish them as His followers. The mark of a genuine Christ follower is not that she knows Scripture fluently, that she can teach a good Bible lesson, that she tithes from her pay check or that she enrolls her children in vacation Bible school. The Christ follower reveals her identity by her loving treatment of, surprisingly, other believers.
Did you catch that? Jesus didn't even say our love for the world would indicate our genuine Christianity. He said our ability to demonstrate consistent and sacrificial love for one another (church member to church member) would testify to our authentic faith.
Christ desires for brothers and sisters in the church--His body in this present age--to get along, to build up one another, and to demonstrate biblical love, so that the world would take notice and want what we have.
A satisfied church member (and by church member, I mean both a contributing and active member of a local church and a member of the church universal by way of salvation) is one who has not only found salvation in Jesus Christ, but one who has also found how to be completely satisfied in her relationship with that same Savior. She has learned how to eat the Bread of Life so that her soul is completely satisfied with significance, purpose, security, love and so much more.
What does that satisfied woman look like in the context of the local church?
A satisfied church member:
- serves. She does not judge her church by how well it serves her and her family, but instead is actively serving others in and through her church, contributing to its well-being rather than complaining about the lack thereof.
- submits to appropriate authority. She isn't out to prove something or lord over others out of some search for significance or power. She is, instead, freed up to "submit to one another." And she doesn't bristle at authority. She understands that God has established authority in the church so it can function correctly.
- is a team player. She doesn't focus solely on promoting her ministry, her group or her ideas. Instead she works with others and supports them in their callings and passions, as well.
- welcomes visitors, new members, etc., making a real effort to help others feel safe and at home in small group meetings, Bible study, the worship service, and at fellowships. She isn't consumed with why "no one spoke to me," but instead goes out of her way to speak to others and include them.
- is a part of the solution rather than the problem. She doesn't say things like, "Someone in our church needs to..." or "Why don't we have a ..." or "The pastor ought to..." Instead, when she notices a need and God lays a burden on her heart, she prays about it and asks Him if she needs to offer her services in that area.
- forgives other believers when they don't meet her expectations...including the pastors. She realizes that no one is perfect and so, while her feelings may get hurt on the rare occasion, she doesn't keep a list of offenses to use as a weapon later on. Instead, she confronts graciously, if necessary, and then offers forgiveness.
- extends grace freely, frequently, and without complaint. Why? Because she recognizes she has been the recipient of "amazing grace."
- is passionately sharing the gospel with others. Why? Because she wants to show hungry people where they too can find satisfaction.
- has no agenda. She simply wants to join God wherever He is at work.
- shows appreciation, gives thanks to others, encourages others, and quickly gives credit to others. Why? Because her desire for significance and purpose and affirmation are satisfied through Jesus and His Word. So she can freely be used to give those things to others without resentment.
The Bible tells us that in God's house there are vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor (2 Timothy 2:20-21). So I'm not making this distinction up based entirely on personal experience. 2 Timothy 2:21 also tells us that we decide which type of vessel we will be for the Master. We can be clean vessels, ready for His use, or we can be soiled vessels, not only useless, but even damaging to the household.
Are you a satisfied church member? Do you know some? I hope you do! I'm sure you do! Tickle me pink by sharing a brief word of acknowledgment about a satisfied church member you know. You can even name her and tell us how she has blessed you and your church.