Presidential candidates have historically distanced themselves from their churches or TV preachers who endorse them. Under scrutiny during a presidential campaign, it’s not a good time for these men to be associated with anyone who can drag them down. Even a pastor or a church.
Political decisions? Of course. But the reason the decisions were made highlights the truth that membership or endorsement means something: affiliation.
People have the right to conclude that you are affiliated with the beliefs of your church, religious organization, synod, or denomination.
The message you are sending when you say, “I’m a member of ____,” is one that implies you endorse the beliefs of that church.
Just like if you say, “I always vote Democrat/Republican/Libertarian/Independent.” You’re endorsing the platform of that party.
This should be nothing new to Christians. Most of the books in the New Testament are letters written to churches related to affiliating or not affiliating with other churches or religious leaders.
Read the first chapter of Galatians or the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Or browse through the epistles of John and notice statements like “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18), and “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him” (2 John 10), and “that we may work together for the truth” (3 John 8).
The Bible calls this “church fellowship,” meaning a unanimous agreement on the teachings of Scripture. Not a few primary teachings but “everything” (Matthew 28:20).
It can be sad when an individual Christian or a congregation must distance from another because of erroneous teaching. At the same time, it offers an opportunity for a Christian or congregation to state their belief in the Bible’s teachings.
Where do you go to church? Why? Proximity to your home? Great programs or an inspirational preacher?
Be a part of a church that teaches what the Bible says. Make a meaningful difference for those who aren’t quite sure whom to follow.
Check out the teachings of a church you’d like to join before you actually join. Ask questions. Compare their teachings to the Bible. Be teachable and humble under the Word of God.
Develop your knowledge of doctrine and, what most people neglect, how it changes your life, how you function because of it, how you share it with others. Be bold in what you believe, while gently inviting others to believe it too.
Membership means something!
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, send your Spirit to clarify my confession of faith, and to give me courage to stand up for the beliefs of Scripture. Help me to rejoice in the beliefs I share with others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Some churches use terms of endearment to express their shared faith and fellowship, such as “brother” and “sister.” Some churches emphasize that they are a “family.” Can you think of other practices that promote fellowship? Oh, potlucks. I had to add that one. Any others?