To become a Christian is not to join an institution called ‘The Church’.
If the truth were known, there is no such thing as ‘joining’ the Christian Church. We never took any steps, either of word or deed, in order to get our limbs to become members of our bodies. There is no distinction between our members and our bodies ― our members comprise our bodies; but they do so, not by organization, invitation, examination, interrogation or catechism, but simply by life. So, in the Church of Christ, provided that a true life-relationship exists, a ‘membership’ in the technical sense is a superfluity, and may be a menace. If there is not that relationship, then no ‘membership’ can constitute the Church of Christ.
There are multitudes, we fear, who have ‘membership’ in what is called the ‘Church’, who are not able to stand up to the test which will be presented when we come to speak of what a Christian is. But let us say here that when we appeal to people to become Christians we are not asking them to ‘join the Church’. And it must be realized that Christianity is not just one more institution or society. You may go to many places called ‘churches’, and never really meet Christ, or find satisfaction.
Of course, that is negative. We must realize, however, that when we become Christians, we share one new life in Christ with all other born-again believers, and thus we become one in Christ. That really is the Church. It is for us, then, to cherish that relationship and jealously watch over its sacredness. There are immense values in it.
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