September 8, 2019: Disciple or Church Member?

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

What does it cost you to be a disciple of Christ? It’s fairly easy to be a church member these days, at least a member of the Moravian Church in North America.

According to the Book of Order—Northern Province, a person needs to commune once a year and give something financially, and that will be enough. The local church may expect more—or less—than that to be a member of a Moravian congregation. A more involved member may be one who worships somewhat regularly, perhaps twice a month, and especially on the “big” Christian holidays such as Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday.

For a good number of Moravians it might mean being willing to serve on the board of elders or the board of trustees, the Christian education committee or the worship committee or the mission or outreach committee. Some in your congregation will teach Sunday school or sing in the choir for years, or will be found in the church kitchen organizing potlucks or covered dish dinners. Others volunteer their time to clean the building or fold bulletins every week, or assemble the monthly newsletter. Those are all aspects of being a church member.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? According to Luke 14:25 people—large crowds!—were following Jesus around from place to place. He was teaching and performing miracles. What he did attracted crowds, much as good preachers do today. But this is JESUS! What does Jesus require of us—as disciples? Do you think Jesus cares about how many terms we’ve been a trustee, or how many anthems we’ve sung? Jesus looks into the heart, the heart of each one of us, into the marrow of our spiritual beings, and asks us: Am I your priority? Do you value me (love me) as your Lord and Savior? If so, take up your cross and be willing to die for me. If so, you will rearrange your priorities to make me the most valuable aspect of your life. Everything else—serving others through your faith and church membership, and serving your community—will come as a result of your absolute commitment to follow JESUS.

Barbara Berg, pastor, London Moravian Church
London, Wisconsin