Responsibility of Membership

Meditations on Subjects of Interest - 6.

If we say we hold that the members of Christ's body are one with Christ, and that the Holy Ghost is down here forming one body in Christ; in short, if we hold the great truths which characterize the Church of God, it is plain that although my individual place with Christ remains the same to me if I am personally faithful (see John 14:21-24), yet my place in the body down here, in which I am held by the Holy Ghost, suffers or gains according to the faithfulness of all other members as well as my own.

My testimony, my service, my worship in communion with the saints, is affected by the action or inaction of my fellow-members; consequently, wherever they are, their conduct is of material interest to me, independently of the regard I may have for my Lord's interest in them. And to seek to improve them, or preserve them right, is the only method I have of freeing myself from the embarrassment which they cause me.

If my Lord's word or judgment excludes any of them because of radical failure from a sustained union, then I am relieved from this (may I say?) bodily encumbrance; otherwise, I have no remedy but the appliances of constitutional vigour to rally and reclaim them. If a gathering becomes dead and formal, and if, through mercy and discipline, my soul is kept lively and vigorous, I don't believe that I shall either help myself or them, or please the Spirit of God, by seeking another enclosure where I may congregate more kindred souls.

As long as I can recognize the assembly as meeting on divine principles, I am bound to maintain my membership unimpaired and utilized among them. If they fail as members, I am not. My measure of power will be owned where there is life. As all measures of light blend and diffuse when brought together, so do all measures of spiritual life, through the power of the Holy Ghost, when acting according to His mind and course. Am I to tie up my arm because the greater part of my body is paralysed? Ought I not rather to promote vitality by the limb which remains in health?

I am persuaded that a faithful member, acting his part, and proving his vitality in the midst of an enfeebled constitution, would eventually rally and re-animate whatever is genuine. All Scripture history supports this belief. Impatience or hastiness of feeling is always an evidence of want of power. If I have power, I have only use for it where it is wanting, and it is not the amount of power that is valuable, but the faithful, energetic use of it. Phinehas-like, I do not desert the congregation of the Lord, if it be one; but the very fact that it needs so much, only makes the demand on me more imperative to maintain the truth in its midst according to the power God may give me.

The simplest and fullest evidence of divine power is the ability to apply the very quality of good suited to the attenuated existence of a weakly body. It is not the whirlwind, it is not the fire; it is the gentle and insinuating word that forms a place for itself in the soul, because the quickened soul feels that it is just what it wants. Christ presented according to the nature of the need, was the nature of the ministry prescribed for the declining churches of revelation. I believe that if we had grace, we should be like Elijah to the prophets of Baal, or any like them, we should let the latter have their full swing, and then in the Lord's name establish His grace to the souls that He loves.