Due to our popular concept of grace, repentance is often overlooked. Heck, most of the time, we don’t even get to repentance. We tolerate all the sins that Christ condemn:
…a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 1 Cor. 5:11
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Galatians 5:19
When is the last time you saw a church member dis-fellowshipped for selfish ambition? How about envy?
And we’ve so far considered only sin after it’s been committed. What about the anticipation of sins (sins you know are about to happen,) that are commonplace in our society? What of the man about to buy something overly extravagant? The woman wearing something inappropriate? The business about to cheat? Divorce and remarriage based on feelings?
The purpose for kicking someone out of the church is not a punishment, but rather both a safeguard against the sinner infecting the rest of the church and as well as a stern opportunity for the sinner to repent. It should always come with the encouragement and support for changed behavior. As we tolerate sin, it becomes the norm.
Now, the question of whether the unrepentant sinner’s behavior will infect the church is a consideration. Paul’s letters were directed toward particular problems that the individual churches were having.
Paul’s admonition not to eat with the immoral etc. means eating as a collective group. Again, the concept is the whole church body. He is not talking about individuals not eating, particularly if the intent is redemption – Christ ate with sinners. The point again is to watch out for the potential for the infection of sin.
I ‘m tired of talking about Josh, so I will offer the following conclusions:
Is it any less an indictment on ourselves that we tend to turn our back on the failings of another as long as he serves our purpose?
In the example of an athlete, do we evaluate the star differently from the bench player? Do we give him the benefit of the doubt, and more room for forgiveness? Unfortunately, all too often, that answer is yes. It’s easier to be critical of, and turn away from an investment that isn’t paying off.
We’re almost always more forgiving with those who give us benefits. It’s easier to pass a blind eye. And as a consequence, when the investment stops giving back, we turn on it.
Perhaps the worst forms shows up as a mob that turns on what used to be its benefactor, or an authority that gives allegiance to in times of trouble to whoever is winning instead of what is right.
- My thoughts have not been about Joshes relation to the internal church body, but his effect out in the world, what his actions say to those outside of Christianity. The suggestion is that he work on his witness inside the church before he takes it outside.
- His fellowship with the church should be evaluated at the local level, that is, within any church he is part of. They can best evaluate his heart and actions.
- We aren’t close enough to know what may lie beneath the surface. We can’t the presence of grace in his life.
- We need to be careful of the hypocrisy of ignoring the plank in our own eyes.