Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Christians go to Church: My thoughts on Baptism and Church Membership

Do only Christians attend church? No.  Many people attend church who don't believe in God, many people who think they are Christians attend church, yet they are not Christians, for it is not Church attendance that makes one a christian.  And there are many Christians who don't attend church, for they chose not to, although it is arguable whether such christians are christians at all!

So how do you become a Christian?  It is to be "born again", to believe that Jesus died for your sins, to repent and be baptised.  Its not whether you say you are, its whether you truely believe, and only God knows.  Its interesting that in the bible, we see every believer is baptized, in almost every instance, its "repent and be baptised".  There was no delay or wait, no infant baptisms, no "baptism classes".  And straight after that, they were part of the church.  Repentance and accepting Jesus and baptism were often spoken of as one thing.  So baptism was a way of visibly identifying that you were joining into the church or the "body of christ", hence the term Church Member as in members of the body (like hands and feet).

And then theres the distinction between your local church, the one that meets every sunday in that church building, to that of the universal church, the one encompasing all believers.  Why are there so many different churches, denominations?  Do they believe in different things? do you need to find the one that matches your own beliefs?  Some churches have people jumping around and waving their arms, some have lots of old people that stand stiff and still... is there a proper way to attend church and worship God?

I believe there are absolutely no requirements to Church membership, there shouldn't be.  Church leadership and eldership is another matter however.  But you cannot have exams, and degree requirements for Church membership, because one ought to become a member as soon as they are baptized, which is as soon as they repent and believe and recieve Jesus.  They become part of the universal church which encompases all Christians, and they ought to be member of their local church.  Come as you are, but don't stay as you are.  Its up to the other Church members, and the Holy Spirit, to model and change that young baby Christian to be more like Jesus, the perfect man.  And in time, supernaturaly, we may come close to believing all the right things about God.  All our human divisions are created out of sin and intollerance, we must learn to agree to disagree.  We cannot kick people out because we don't agree with them (this is usually us thinking we are right) and we ought not to leave and start our own group.  We trust that in the end, God knows our hearts, and our deeds, and most importantly the strength of our relationship with Him.  And His Love, Justice, and Mercy will be revealed to all; within the church and outside.

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