I have come to greatly dislike the term church member. Let’s be real: what is a church member exactly? It’s certainly not a biblical term or concept. Too often church membership gets boiled down to rears in seats and names on lists. Instead of seeing ourselves as church members, we need to start seeing ourselves as disciples. Billy Graham understood a disciple as: “someone who believes in Jesus and seeks to follow him in his or her daily life.” There are two big parts to this. First, we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. We continue by going deeper, diving into the Word, connecting in Prayer, having meaningful fellowship with other Christians, listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, etc. We root ourselves as deeply in wisdom and knowledge of God as we possibly can. But, being a disciple is not only about salvation, knowledge, and wisdom (although those are important). It is also about service.
Jesus was once approached by someone who wanted to be a disciple. He seemed to have studied the scriptures and gained knowledge and wisdom. Yet, when Jesus called him to follow him he simply couldn’t make the leap:
And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:20-22
I once heard it put this way. Following Jesus isn’t always going to be easy, but aren’t you tired of just existing? That’s a great question. If we say, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and pass on this discipleship thing, what we’re saying is we’re fine with just breathing air. We’re fine with not serving God, not impacting the world, and not being who God created us to be. We’re perfectly fine just doing what we want, instead of what God wants. What God desires from us is that we serve the world in whatever ways we’ve been equipped to serve it. Now, this is not nearly as complicated as it seems. Serving God’s Kingdom means that we take what we are good at and use it to bless others in God’s name. My question to you is, are you using the things that you are good at, and have been blessed with, to serve God and others? Are we seeing ourselves as disciples or as members as air breathers?
My prayer for all of us is that we do not go through life simply existing, but live a life of discipleship by growing in our faith and lovingly serving the world around us. We need to start seeing ourselves as disciples, choosing to actively live for Christ in all that we do.