we reflect ourselves through our behavior...THAT's how one knows a person!!
God has a reason for every word He left us, whether it is in the form of a story or parable that gives us examples, or a commandment. It is a very unwise person who would argue with His wisdom. He commanded us to study; for a reason. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (King James) We can listen to others and learn and gain insight, but it does not relieve us of the responsibility of studying for ourselves. Ultimately we will answer for what we do or do not do….regardless of what others do or do not do.
After my husband and I had been worshiping with a certain congregation for several months one of the men came up to my husband and asked him if we were going to place membership. This particular congregation had no elders; it was just a group of Christians meeting together; worshiping together. They were a young congregation that had not yet acquired elders. We had begun to get involved and enjoyed the people and felt good about the sermons that we had heard (scripturally sound) and the biblical approach up to that point that many of the members seemed to have. A side note here is that every church is commanded to have elders as part of the structure that God desires in a congregation. In I Timothy and Titus Paul directs that elders are necessary (Remember all scripture is inspired by God, so if it is in there…God wanted it there) (2 Timothy 3:16) …we have example and command for elders. Elders are appointed; must fit certain criteria which reflect moral, spiritual and ethical behavior and are there as overseers for the church. They are responsible for the members. If anyone has any questions about the need for elders or wishes to have more information, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help!...
ANYHOO…I bring up elders as an important point to this story. IF there are no elders established at a church there is no one under which to place ourselves….we are merely a group of Christians meeting together to worship and move in the direction of setting up our autonomous congregation as God told us to do. I understand that they wanted to know if we wanted to worship with them in a more permanent way. That is logical. At that point we most definitely wanted to worship with them. When my husband told them yes…thus began the concern.
Apparently the men had gotten together and decided that before we could place “membership” with them we needed to answer three questions. WHAT? My first question was where in scripture do you get authority or example or command that we must answer three questions before we can “place membership”? I’ll give you a quick answer…it isn’t there. In case you are curious as I was….the three questions were 1. Are you a Christian? 2. How were you baptized? and 3. Do you have a scriptural marriage? At least this is how I remember them. In all actuality it doesn’t really matter WHAT the questions were…they had no scriptural basis for asking them as a requirement we must complete before we could “place membership”. BE CAREFUL! If you ever experience something regarding God’s plan for us and you hear people talk about expedience (that isn’t scriptural either if it is not a direct command or example from God)…”There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” Proverbs 16:25 (a book full of wisdoms and guidelines for living a true Christian life) it is also stated in Proverbs 14:12. Who are we to decide that something is expedient when we lean on our own understanding.
As we look at what man sees as “expedient” we can usually see quite quickly problems with our worldly plans and ideas. For this particular situation, what would stop a person from just lying about their state of Christianity or marriage? Instead, we can look to scripture to find out about people who come together as Christians in a natural way; God’s way. “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11 (more wisdom from Proverbs) and look at Matthew 7:16 where Matthew is talking about false prophets…”By their fruit you will recognize them.” It seems pretty clear that we will out ourselves if we will show our true selves to others by our actions.
IF there were elders the situation would have been different. Elders are our overseers; they have a responsibility in kind for our spiritual well being. If an elder had asked me some questions to get to know me better; to understand how he could be of help in my spiritual walk I would not have an issue in talking to him. HOWEVER, I still question whether or not any man would have a right to tell me I could not “place membership” with a congregation if I did not answer “Three Questions”. I just don’t find it there. But, if I am truly wanting to worship with a congregation that has elders I would want to give them all the tools they would need to help them in their heavy responsibility!
WHAT HAPPENED was I (I feel it not right to speak for my husband here…thus the I instead of the we) made my concerns known. I said I would not answer questions of my fellow Christians in order to “place membership”. I also said that I had been an open book since my arrival there and had already talked about my life and my Christianity and in effect, they already had answers to their “three questions”. That was a natural occurrence in the process of getting to know one another. That was a natural byproduct of our fellowship together.
In the end, at one of the men confessed that when the practice was set into place he knew it was wrong even though he agreed they should do it. He apologized and as far as I know the practice was dropped. I didn’t ask specifically, but we ended up being “members”. How did I know? We were in the church directory! HA
And life goes on…