What it Means to Unite with the Church by J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
A friend has written to me asking me to write you some words about joining the Church. It is a very sweet pleasure indeed to do this. I suppose what you would like to know is something about the meaning of this act. Let me tell you as simply as I can what I think it means.
There are three names of Christ which tell us what he is. First, he is your Savior. He died for you and you accept his death as the putting away of your sins.
Second, he is your Master. This means that you are to obey him. He says, "If you love me, keep my commandments. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you." That is, if you are to be a Christian, while you trust him for everything, you are to do his will, to read your Bible, to know what he wants you to do, to listen to his voice and to try in all things to follow him.
Third, he is your Friend. This means that he comes into your life into a closer place than mother or father or any friend ever can have. He loves you with a love tender and deep and strong and true and unchanging. He will never cease to love you. Even if you should get careless — he will not give you up. Even if you should do wrong things — he will not cast you off. He will always cling to you and follow you. Then you are to love him. Your love is to be shown not so much in feeling — as in the way you live, in doing what he wants you to do, in being what he wants you to be.
Thus I have explained to you what it is to be a Christian. Now all those who follow Christ are asked to confess him before the world. He asked his first disciples to leave all and follow him. He does not ask you to leave your home and your friends — but he does ask you to leave whatever may be wrong in your life. Thus hereafter when you find anything is wrong, that you have any fault, you are to leave the wrong and give up the fault, and turn to Christ always.
Confessing Christ before the world means, first, to unite with the Church. Then you come to the Lord's Table and receive the Communion. This means that you take Christ as your Savior, his body broken for you, his blood shed for you, and that you give yourself to him, to be faithful to him in every way, as far as you possibly can, as long as you live.
But confessing Christ means more than this. It is not enough to join the Church and to love Christ and be true to him when we are among Christians or in church service. We are to be faithful to Christ all the week, out among our friends, in our school life, in our play and in everything and always. That is, you are never to do anything, wherever you go, that would disown Christ.
In joining the Church you will also promise to do what you can to bring other people to him. This you can do, first, by praying for them, then by trying to get them to attend the services with you, and sometimes you may say a word which may lead some friend or some neighbor to be a Christian.
It means also that always you will be loving and kind. Love is the great lesson of all Christian life. Not only are we to love Christ — but we are to love each other. This means that at home you will learn to be gentle, patient, thoughtful, kind and obliging. It means that you will also be kind and helpful to every person, always watching for opportunities of doing good, always reaching out your hand to help those who need help.
Do not be afraid to unite with the Church. I am sure that you love Christ, that you trust him as your Savior, and that you want to follow him. He will not leave you alone. As long as you are faithful and try to do your duty, he will not fail you — but will bless you in every way you need. As you pray day by day for strength — he will give it to you. Take your place in the Church with quiet confidence, thanking God for his goodness, rejoicing that you can be a Christian, and accepting Christ in all his love and grace as your dearest, truest, strongest and best Friend.
Then, when you have joined the Church, remember that there is no better help in the Christian life than to be active, not only in common duties — but in special work for Christ.