“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, March 08, 2007

40 years but no membership

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who related an interesting yet sad story. Apparently, she had an uncle who was a pastor, who had a son with down's syndrome. Anyway, the man with down's syndrome was a regular attender of his father's church for nearly 40 years. My friend related how he loved the church and loved God. The man literally would sleep on his hymn book every night. The sad part of the story was that the man was never offered membership in the church. My friend's assumption was that he wasn't offered membership because he was unable to memorize the church's creed, or relate particular faith statements in a manner sufficient to justify his actual membership.

What does a person need to do to express faith in a way that will lead to acceptance in the Christian church? Is faith only expressed through achieving some level of cognitive knowledge? Or can I love God and love my church so much that I literally sleep on my hymnal, possibly as an act of worship?

Obviously we don't give away the farm to anyone who believes anything, but we can also be exclusive in the most negative of ways. I suspect that the man, now a resident of heaven, didn't have the same criteria applied to him there. So he could be a member of God's family in heaven, but not a member of his local church.



Impossibleape said...

perhaps Simone Weil was right in her example of fervent belief but refusing church membership. She was afraid that to become baptized into the church would cut her off from the disenfranchised (like the man in your story) and other suffering/rejected people around her.

many will come from the four corners of the earth to dine at the supper of the Lamb. The ticket in will not be church membership.

Anonymous said...

When I read this I was struck by how God brings about situations so that followers can be conneted through what His spirit is doing. I too wonder at the worship of our church. I am a part of a congregation that has two members(it will be interesting to find out if they have "membership") that worship the Lord in a way that causes others to stay somewhat clear. One lady dances and sings and cries and I believe truly worships the Lord. This lady does have an intellectual disability, but I am sure her score on a "God" written IQ test would be higher than many of us. Another wonderful lady who uses a wheelchair and does not communicate verbally with the clarity "we" think is understandable, sits through a service and when the pastor says something that God uses to reach in and tug at the heart and you want to Amen out loud, but because of pride and self awareness you sit quietly, she has the perfect wonderful clarity of an Amen out loud! I sometimes find myself in places where that lady is not, yet I imagine her Amen loud and clear and find something missing when I do not hear it. I too have a lot to learn about true faith. Any membership that is other than being a follower of Christ is a membership that builds walls, and blocks out some of the light that Christ shines upon us to declare his Glory to the world. His Grace for all who seek Him! There is a freedom in those who know the Lord but have been shut out from the world, that God uses to convict us who have bought into the message of what is important by the world. I pray that our eyes will be open and we will come along side those who have been set apart by God to teach us so much more than we could ever teach them!