Is this a problem for a church membership covenant? Is this significant? I would argue that it’s extremely significant.
But you might think that I’m making a mountain over a molehill. But this isn’t me making a mountain out of a molehill. This has everything to do with understanding what the church is.
We’re not the church individually. We’re the church collectively. Individually, we’re a part of the church. Individually, we’re members of the church, but we’re not the church individually.
In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges his readers, “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” In our English language this fact may get past us since we have only one word for “you”—whether we’re speaking of the singular “you” or plural “you all” or “y’all.”
But the language that the New Testament was written in is more precise than that. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, and in Koine Greek there’s one word for singular “you” and there’s a completely different word for the plural “y’all.”
And, yes, I’m sure you’ve already guessed it, the “you” that Paul uses in this verse is the plural “y’all.” He goes on to expand on that by using the language of “bearing with one another” in verse 2.
The “one another” phrase clearly spells out the importance of relationship. It spells out the importance of community. But this isn’t the only place in the New Testament that talks about how we treat “one another.” Tthere are nearly 60 passages in the New Testament alone that speak of “one another.”
- Encourage one another (1 Thess 5:11)
- Bear with one another (Col 3:12–17)
- Forgive one another (Col 3:12–17)
- Teach one another (Col 3:12–17)
- Serve one another (Gal 5:13–15)
- Confess our sins to one another (Jas 5:16)
- Honor one another (Rom 12:10)
- Love one another (John 13:34–35)
And we could go on! The point is simple and clear. We weren’t made to live by ourselves. We weren’t meant to struggle by ourselves. We weren’t meant to pursue Jesus by ourselves. We’re meant to do that in community—with one another.
Here’s something important I tell people when they join the church. When you join a church, you’re giving permission to your fellow church members to get in your business! That’s what you’re doing when you join a church.
And the flip side of that is true also. When we as a people receive someone into church membership, we’re telling that person that he or she has permission to get into our business.
We’re saying to one another, “I love you enough to allow you to speak the truth of God’s Word into my life, and I love you enough to speak the truth of God’s Word into your life.”
Friends, we were made for this. We were made to live in community. The “we” language of a church covenant is EXTREMELY important. We do this together.