Im pretty sure my fists were clenched, my breathing was labored, and my upper teeth bit into my lower lip. I wanted to shout at the 20-something seated across from me at Applebees. Actually, I wanted to do more than shout. He had definitely struck a nerve deep within my inner being and much of my old self wanted to drive my holy hand through his stubborn skull. However, in a moment of – I’m sure – Holy Spirit induced control, I simply fought the kick tail urges within me, sheathed my intellectual sword, and returned to the source I should never have left even in a moment of anger – the Word.
“What could have prompted such a blood-boiling reaction from a 30 year old pastor?” you might ask. Well…the answer to that question is simply sad: a great many things. Cold fries at Chick-fil-a, a careless driver on McMullen Booth, or a Carolina basketball loss (especially to Duke). Quite pathetic are the things that I typically allow to fry my soul and place me squarely at the doorstep of insanity. On this day, though, I felt as though I had the right; and I still believe (at least hope), that my indignation was righteous.
The statement that had fallen from the lips of the young man across the tile-topped table was one I had heard many times before. With a flippant attitude, accompanied by half a smirk (appeared more like a sneer to me) he muttered, “So, Aaron…you know that the Bible does not teach church membership, right?”
As soon as I hear someone utter the words, “…you know that the Bible doesn’t teach…” I am instantly on edge. More often than not, it is a ploy of the defendant to justify whatever he or she might be doing, or not doing, which religion (or even Scripture) condemns or condones. Of course I knew that the Bible never implicitly states : “Thou shalt join a local church.” But anyone who has, with any real insight, read the New Testament should be able to clearly see that it is a foregone conclusion that all true believers in Jesus Christ (the universal body) will partner with a local church. Yet, when I make such a claim instantly “Christians” rise up on the right hand and the left, spewing back in my face their reality: “The Bible never makes such a statement!”
This Sunday at BLDG 28 we will be exploring the Biblical basis for church membership. If you can’t make it, the sermon entitled “Stop Dating the Church” will be on our website early next week. But as I wrap up this blog the thought that plagues my mind and grips my heart it this: why are those who have been chosen to be children by Almighty God, purchased with the blood of Christ, and made alive by the Ghost of God…why are those who have been counted among the righteous, destined for eternal bliss, and added to the universal church…why do they have such an antagonistic view of and adamant stance against partnering with a local representation of the church? Why would you – if indeed you are a true follower of Jesus – not desire to be taught from His Word, strengthened by His disciples, and serve with His body? Why…?
Honestly, every answer that comes to my mind is, quite frankly, disturbing, frightening, and repulsive.