There are some Christians who do not recognize God’s blessing afforded through investing in a local congregation. In order to justify keeping a “safe distance” from their fellow worshipers, they say that there isn’t a biblical mandate for church membership. Also, in light of the truth of Scripture, they wrongly use the fact that every believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit to avoid church membership.
I believe that both members of churches and those who bypass a commitment to church membership are sincere. Polls and surveys consider both groups to represent American Christianity. I am not suggesting that one can’t be a Christian unless he or she is a member of a local congregation. I am suggesting that the Bible is silent on singular Christians. Our rugged individualism has led us to ignore the magnitude of God’s blessing through praising Him as part of a local church to which we have made a public commitment. Staying aloof from membership in a Bible-believing church is symptomatic of our individualism.
Since God commands His people to praise Him, it is important to consider what He has said about the place of praise and membership in the body. God chooses the place of worship, Deuteronomy 12:5-7; Psalm 49:1, and God adopts those whom He chooses, Galatians 4:4-5. God’s spiritual adoption is worked out through the local congregation, Ephesians 4:11-16.
God’s people, those who are part of His adopted family in Christ, also have the privilege of praising Him wherever they are, Psalm 34:1; 119:164, but supremely as part of a church family through which God grows them up in Christ!
The most important part of genuine praise is what follows it. That is, are we living in the light of the God whom we praise? I suppose that we might say that praise is not only an act or event it is a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that is learned as one invests himself in a local, Bible-believing congregation.
May you be blessed by our sovereign God as you praise Him as part of your church family!
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).