Defining membership parameters


On one of my rare forays into a discussion forum for my denomination there was a debate on who you could/should fellowship with.

My line on this is ‘pretty much anyone’… as if you start drawing lines it turns you into a some kind of leagalist, but how much legalism is acceptable? How do we draw fellowship lines?

and then this caught my eye (from Scripture… as we live it)

So those who received agreed with his word attended membership classes and were baptized, and there were added that day over the next few weeks, months, and years about three thousand less than the original three thousand souls – those who agreed with the church’s statement of faith, attended all the membership classes, and were baptized with the proper motive, method, and administrator. (Acts 2:41 re-mix)

The more I think about this, the more I think it is perhaps not up to us to decide, I mean, Jesus had fellowship or table time with a whole lot of people.

I wrote this a long time ago, I think it came from the Jesus Creed (Scot Mcknight)

At the time of Jesus, table customs were used to measure one’s commitment to the the Torah – that is fellow Jews were to eat with those who were pure and food that was kosher. Some who were careful about observing the Torah frowned on Jesus’ table customs. well, frowned is rather week, denounced would be better. there is an overlook accusation against Jesus – “here is a glutton and a drunkard” and this is taken from a legal code about how parents should make a legal charge about a rebellious son.
As it goes, the parents would take the son to the elders and state “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey is. He is a glutton and a drunkard” then they would stone the rebellious son to death. so in this context, Jesus is using the table to create a society that was not wanted by some. Matthew, to celebrate his new found faith hosts a meal and invites Jesus, and a a host of his friends, who appear to be raw, reformed sinners.

some of the Pharisees there winced and whined over the presence of such people at the table. for them the table was meant to talk, but it was meant to say purity, and for them the table became a wall between the observant and nonobservant – not because they were mean, but because they were zealous in their commitment to how the Torah should be applied. For Jesus, the table was a place of fellowship, inclusion and acceptance. for Jesus, the table
embodied his core teaching of the Shema. To love God and to love others, meant inviting them to the table. To love God and to love others means inviting all to the table. Jesus practical application of his teaching demonstrated and communicated something so powerful – it moved loving God from a society of Torah and traditions to an active following of the most important commandment.

in a shift from you can eat with me if you are clean, observant, and if you are not, go, follow the customs and come back tomorrow Jesus’ table simply says come.

Clean, unclean, you can eat with me, and instead of the table requiring purity, the table  will create purity.

The table becomes a place of Grace, a place that heals, that hopes, that restores, transforms, and a place that created a tangible vision of the Kingdom of God.

When people sit at the Lords table, at the table with Jesus, they are seeing and living in a new society – the kingdom society.


7 Responses to “Defining membership parameters”

  1. 1 L


    This is the table, not of the church, but of Jesus Christ.
    It is made ready for those who love him
    and who want to love him more.
    So come, you who have much faith
    and you who have little,
    you who have been here often
    and you who have not been for a long time,
    you who have tried to follow and you who have failed.
    Come, not because it is we who invite you:
    Come because it is Christ who invites you to meet him here.

  2. 2 A

    ^ +1
    ^^ Amen

  3. 3 B

    Is that yours, or attributable to ?

  4. 4 tobit

    hi B, is that comment to L or me (all this initial business, wonder if I can get an alphabet by the end of the day!)
    I think I attributed my quoted comments – the bit on the table came from a teaching I did a while back, and that teaching was based, in part, on the Jesus Creed. So probably some of it is direct quote and some my interpretation.

  5. 5 ben

    Thanks. I meant L’s poem / prose. I’ve seen it before but can’t remember where or when. ben

  6. 6 L

    Ben. It’s adapted from Anon; please share it. It reminds me it is not ‘our’ table that we can control, but Christ’s, and we are invited to share. It is our privilege, not our right

  7. 7 A

    ^ amen again

    (just think Albertina Walker!!)

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