One result of sin on the human heart is a constant desire for independence. As sinful humans, we want to be free. We don’t want to sign contracts for our cell phone service. We want a way ‘out of’ marriage if we grow dissatisfied with our spouse. We don’t want to stay at one job too long or else we’ll get bored. In short, we only want to really commit to one person–ourselves.
Deciding to follow Jesus Christ means a fundamental commitment-change. First, you have to de-commit to yourself. This is what Jesus means when he says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” ([esvignore]Luke 9:23[/esvignore]). But deciding to follow Jesus also commits you to His Body, the Church, and more particularly, following Jesus should commit you to a local church. One way to see how much God’s Word talks about the individual Christian’s need to be committed to a local group of Christians is to see how many times the phrase, “one another” is used in the New Testament (around 130!). For example, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” ([esvignore]Ephesians 4:32[/esvignore]). Most of these commands are written to local churches to express the responsibilities these members have towards ‘one another’.
Up until the past seventy years or so, most Gospel-believing, Bible-preaching churches had a document called a “church covenant” which spelled out church members’ responsibilities towards one another. At Grace Bible Church, we want to obey Jesus by not just loving Him, but also loving His body, the church, and we believe one important tool to achieve that end is this church covenant.