Requirements of Membership

In the religious realm, almost every religion that I know anything about both teaches and accomplishes some good, especially those religious systems that categorize themselves as being one of the “Christian” religions. They all teach that people should conduct their lives in a good moral fashion (that is; obey the commandments, usually referring to the Ten Commandments), attend (at least occasionally) some sort of worship service on a [somewhat] regular basis, exercise kindness and benevolence toward one’s fellow man, and make financial contributions to the corporate treasury. If a person at least maintains a façade of doing those basic things, that person is usually considered to be a member in good standing of that particular religious group. The same thing could be said for being a member of a social club that makes no pretense of being a religion (although some seem to have replaced their religion with membership in a social club). If you abide by the club rules, attend the club meetings, and pay your dues, you are a member in good standing. For example, I once belonged to a rod and gun club. I paid an annual membership fee, participated to a minimum degree in the club activities, and avoided breaking any of the club rules. This behavior entitled me to access the club property and facilities and to a few other benefits without having to pay extra. There were no requirements for me to love anyone, associate with any particular group of people, or assume any other responsibilities.

Unfortunately, many people seem to equate Christianity with “club membership.” Judging by their behavior, many seem to think that if they show up occasionally, make any sort of financial contribution, and avoid most immoral behaviors, they have a “punched ticket to heaven.” But is that all there is to Christianity? I would think not!

God’s “club bylaws” (the Bible) describe two different kinds of sin: 1) things that are done that should be avoided and 2) things that must be done that are often omitted. Usually they are referred to as sins of commission and sins of omission; things we do that we shouldn’t do and things we fail to do that we should (cf. Jas 1:27; 4:17). It also informs us that the condition of the heart is of utmost importance. As long as I do the things my club membership requires me to do, the club officers are not concerned about whether or not my heart is in it, but that is not the case with God. His utmost concern is the heart, because if the heart is right, everything else will follow (cf. Prov 4:23; Lk 8:15).

How is your heart? Better yet, where is your heart? Are you practicing your Christianity with all your heart, or is your heart elsewhere, placing a greater importance on other things? Consider Matthew 6:19-21.

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