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DEPOSIT REQUIRED
October 7, 2020, 1:00 PM

“And in Christ, having heard and believed the Word of truth—the Gospel of your salvation—you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the Deposit of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.” -Ephesians 1:13-14

 

It happens all the time. People visit our church and jubilantly exclaim, “I’d like to join!” My response to people quick to “join,” is one of extreme caution. “Joining” a church for many has become as flippantly casual as changing shoes or joining a gym after a New Year’s resolution.

 

Joining a church isn’t remotely akin to a gym membership or a fruit-basket-of-the-month club. Despite our seemingly keen awareness of this truism, there is virtually no actual distinction between how we end, terminate, bail, and abandon them. When we’re done, we’re just done. We wash our proverbial hands of it all and walk away. The ensuing calamity and collateral damage isn’t our problem. Our endless list of offenses, slights, and reasons are all the justification we need.

 

In Matthew’s account of the Gospel, he recorded these words of Jesus, “No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mamona.” -Matthew 6:24

 

Most translations render the Greek word mamona as "money," but that’s not really the best picture. Mamona, or sometimes “mammon,” isn’t simply money or material stuff, but whatever we ultimately put our faith and trust in.

 

For many, even those who claim to be devout Christians, our true mamona, i.e. our priority, our security, our trust, faith, and first-love isn’t truly Christ, but rather our 401K, our stock portfolio, our salary/income, our homes, our comfort, our position, career, title, our accomplishments, our worldly resume’, our plan and our will.

 

Disagree? What if, after visiting a church, you decided this truly was the place the Holy Spirit was leading you to join and serve? Then, what if, after this joyful conviction, the pastor said, “Great! We just need a $25,000 deposit.” The pastor would go on to clarify, “The deposit will be returned to you 110% upon your departure if, throughout the term of your membership, you’ve actively and passionately demonstrated the following clear and tangible evidence of love for Christ in and through His Bride, the church:

  • Done nothing selfish or prideful, rather considering others as superior to self in all life and church affairs.

  • Demonstrated clear evidence of leaving for the exclusive purpose of edifying (building-up) the Body and Bride of Christ rather than tearing it down (church plant vs. church split, called to serve in a new geographic location vs. leaving in anger or bitterness).

  • Having aired all grievances privately with offenders in gentleness and respect rather than gossiping and creating division and dissension within the Body.

  • Consistently used the measure of grace and lovingkindness you wish to have measured to you in all your dealings, conversations, text messages, and emails.

  • Born patiently with one another and readily forgiving as one who has been crucified with Christ and who no longer lives with any rights or entitlements to self.

  • A history of casting all ego, pet-projects, opinions, and agenda down at foot of the Cross in order to proclaim and promote the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

  • A vibrant testimony of glorious UNITY within the Body of Christ through humility, service, and a desire to glorify Christ in all things - at all times - forever!

Would we still be so quick to leave?

Would we be so quick to blurt, “This is where God is calling me to be!” If not, is the opposition because of our attachment to mamona? Is the reservation because we never truly intended to commit to serving as members of the Body? Is our hesitation because we cherish autonomy and freedom more than genuine surrender and legit obedience to Christ?

Church membership is infinitely and eternally more than going through a “Membership 101” class to get our names entered into a database or email list. There’s no mention of that kind of consumer-minded process anywhere in Scripture. There’s no mention of “joining” the Church at all, merely one of affirmation.

 

Scripture affirms people were either born-again by faith in Christ or not. Disciples were either committed to the advancement of the Gospel to the ends of the earth or not. Christians either met together with other believers to pray and to devote themselves to the Apostle’s teachings or not. Subjects of King Jesus were either ready to die for their faith or not. The posers and charlatans, like Ananias and Sapphira, simply dropped dead as a stern warning to the fruit-basket-of-the-month types (see Acts 5:1-10).

 

Just to be clear, we don’t ask people for a financial deposit to affirm church membership. Instead, we look for another kind of Deposit, that of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Ephesians 1:13-14.

 

Are you showing up to serve or be served? Do you stick around for Gospel-community and fellowship after service or are you cutting out early for the game, brunch, or other activities now that the church box has been checked? Are you a compassionate and cheerful giver of ALL your firstfruits, or is the idea of tithing offensive to you? Do you have a gentle and teachable spirit, or are you looking for a platform to grind some theological axe?

 

Yes, there most certainly is a Deposit required for members of the Bride and Body of Christ, but it’s of eternally greater value than anything any of us have to offer. The fruitful evidence of its harvest in our lives looks like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

If you’re looking for just another church-of-the-month club membership, let me assure you - we’re not it. If you’re looking for a Spirit-led church revealing Christ through unity in worship… a Gospel-community where we pursue, win, and disciple the lost, deluded, and disillusioned for God's glory... maybe PBC is where King Jesus desires to deposit you.

 

Blessings,

-Pastor Kevin