As United Methodists,
we must be different
We live in a world that encourages us to blend in, but as members of the United Methodist Church and as Christians, we must resist this temptation. I know that many will tell you, "You don't have to take this Christian business so seriously." Yet, in his devotional guide, "A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader," Rueben Job writes, "And if we listen to the voice of the culture around us it is quite easy to hide, to be absorbed into the mainstream of life that flows around us."
Bishop Job goes on to say, "The marks of a Methodist are seen in a life that is clearly offered to God with an unqualified commitment. When this happens life is transformed and begins to bear the characteristics of the One who is being followed."
It is clear to Rueben Job that we are called to be "like Him." We must be different. Simply put, the churches that make demands on their members are the churches that are growing. Could this be a strong indication that people today are looking for a church in which the expectation level for members is high? Membership is more than, "What can I get out of church?" Membership is, "What can the church and Christ expect from me?" Let us strive to expand our understanding and commitment to Christ.
I conclude this "Meaning of Membership" series with these challenges:
- Start a class in which you study the Book of Acts. This will help us see how the early church struggled with the issue of what it means to be a new creation.
- Require the completion of a "new members class" before people can come forward to profess their faith, renew membership vows, or transfer their membership.
- Offer to long-time members the opportunity to study the vows of membership. Then be mindful that the study must be supplemented with prayer. It is difficult to sanction with the head that which the heart rejects. Be ever mindful that transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit.
May God bless you, my sisters and brothers, as you wrestle with what God expects of a member of the community called the church.