I've been hanging around in cyberspace long enough now that I'm now running into myself from a few years ago. It's definitely weird to find yourself quoted from the past! That was my experience this morning when I read a blog post from Boundless Line. My friend, Motte Brown, wrote about an interview he and Ted Slater did with Joshua Harris and me many years ago. I don't remember when we recorded this interview, because it was completed for awhile before it went online. So like most women, I have to date it from my hairstyle. Given that I still had short hair, I would say it is at least three years old. ;)
The conversation was about church membership. I re-read it with the fresh perspective of having just switched churches to be part of a team starting a new church in Arlington, VA. Toward the end of the conversation, we started talking about why church membership is vital for countering the hypocrisy that tempts us all. I had forgotten about the closing anecdote, but I still think it is brilliant leadership on the part of a husband. And I'm glad to say this couple is still doing well and glorifying the Lord in their marriage and family. I trust this couple's approach will help others who are considering marriage this holiday season!
Joshua Harris: You're asking a specific question about why have membership, why not just all come together? I think that the New Testament makes clear that there is an understanding of defining who Christians are for the sake of being a faithful witness. And so at Covenant Life for example, the church that I am a part of and help to lead, we recognize that if we don't define who the membership is -- number one, as pastors, it's very difficult to know who we're caring for and how we're to do that. But second, it sends a confusing message to the world around us if that there are people who claim to be Christians and yet are living a life that contradicts the message of the Bible and who Christ is. I think that's one of major causes for a disillusionment when it comes to Christianity because it's so easy for people to say, well, I'm a Christian, and yet contradict that. And membership in the church is a way to hold people to their convictions as Christians and to be faithful in that.
In my book I say, "Look for a church that is willing to kick you out." I have had readers write me and say, "You know, I was just so confused by that. But the more I think about it, that's awesome. I do want to be in a church that's willing to say you're not living what you say to believe. And so we're not going to let you just be a hypocrite here. We're going to call you to be faithful to Christ." And that's a great comfort and I think is needed today.
Carolyn McCulley: I think it's also an important factor for single women as they are trying to discern the various men around them and their relationships. When you see a man who's willing to commit to a local church in a generation that commits to nothing, that doesn't even really want to commit to marriage, you're seeing somebody who has said, "All right. There's something that is greater than myself; there's a community that is greater than myself." And you're also seeing a man who's willing to submit himself to other men in terms of authority. I always counsel the women around me, when they're considering somebody they might marry, to ask themselves if this is a man who is himself accountable. If we're to practice the biblical commands to submit to and to honor and to respect our husbands, one of the greatest safeties that we will encounter is knowing that this man is himself submitted to other men.
A friend once told me that when she and her husband were married, her husband said to her, "I want you to know something. If you ever feel like I'm not listening you, that I'm not taking your counsel, or that my leadership is not servant leadership, but running roughshod over you, I want you to know that you not only have my blessing, but you have my urging to go right around me to our pastor. Because I want to care for you, and I want to love you like Christ, and if I'm not doing that, the other men around me need to know that." I thought that was brilliant.