Monday, May 21, 2012

Going Deeper for the week of May 20

The relationship between the church (as God's people through true faith in Jesus Christ) and the world (those who are without hope and without God because they do not place true faith in Jesus) is something about which we should all think deeply.

Recently this has come to the fore with the debate over same sex couples, civil unions, and marriage.  So once again we need to go back to God's word and think more deeply because faithfulness to God and His mission in this world requires it.

(Read I Corinthians 5:1-13)

Paul offers harsh words for the immoral man INSIDE the church, but reserves judgment on those OUTSIDE.  He makes clear that judging those outside the church is not his business, rather Paul trusts that God will judge those "outside". (see verse 13)  So what does this passage have to say to us about the relationship between the church and the world, and what it means to be faithful to God and His mission in this world?

Well first of all when God judges those outside what is His criteria of judgment?

(Read John 3:16-21)

God's criteria for judgment is simple.  "Whoever believes in him (God's Son) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son (i.e. Jesus)"  God's criteria is based on true faith in Jesus.  Whoever believes is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already.

So how should the church relate to the world then by being faithful to God and His mission?

In my very humble opinion, according to the word of God, I submit to you that our concern should no longer focus on behavior, but ultimately on belief.  Our goal should be to trust God, place faith in Jesus, and help others do the same.

But how does this relate to the situation of the immoral church member in I Corinthians 5?

I think one thing of which we should take particular note is the word "proud".  "A man has his father's wife.  And you are proud!"  The issue of pride is significant because it relates to faith.  In order for a person to maintain true faith in Jesus, pride must be put to death.

Recall what Jesus said in John 3:20-21 "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light ..."

So again, in my very humble opinion, the issue is pride getting in the way of faith.  The person who belongs to God through true faith in Christ will regularly open him or herself up to God's light, and let God expose the evil that remains in them.

Therefore, the church's role in judgment is to drive people back to God through humble faith in Jesus.
So in discipleship we cannot make a list of "do's" and "don't's" as the criteria for when to apply formal discipline, but we must handle each situation and each person with wisdom concerning not only their behavior, but also the attitude of their hearts.

For example, according to Paul, it might be just as fitting for the church to expel an immoral brother for greed as much as for sexual immorality.  (see I Corinthians 5:11)

But in order to do this well we must know one another well enough that we can also discern each other's hearts.  This is the difficult task of discipleship, and it is the realm of the church for the church and cannot be confined to a list of "do's" and "don't's".

So what do you think?  Let's talk about this because faithfulness to God and His mission in this world requires going deeper.  


  1. Well, fortunately we still live in a Democracy where I am able to express my opinion through a vote. I do approve of civil unions but believe that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman. I think this is healthy for society. If we don't impose some boundaries now we may end up with 2 year contracts (as was voted in in Mexico recently) or polygemy - or something worse down the line. In our society we have, traditionally, imposed moral codes into our laws and don't allow for theft, murder and a multitude of other things which we believe are detrimental to society. This issue is no different. Majority rules on this and I will have to live with what is decided but as long as I have a vote I will use it. I worry more about this becoming a civil rights issues and Pastor's and churches being sued for not allowing gay marraige in their sanctuaris. I just watched the Focus on the Family DVD seris - 'The Truth Project' tape 3 last night. Evil was discussed. Interestingly this world is beginning to define evil as anything that prevents us from "self-actualization" which is shoved down our throats as part of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If you really examine this guys teaching (which are globally accepted as the gospel) then you can't even talk to people about Christ until they are fed. (Tell that to the thousands of people who died from starvation in Ireland who, inspite of rampant starvation, brought many to Christ.) Don't get me wrong - feeding the poor is critical and an important ministry but God can affect a person no matter what state they are in. And pleasing God is far more impoortant than pleasing man. Christians, who know the truth, living within a god-less, blind society will always struggle. We are fortunate in this country that we can vote. I'm so tired of Christians saying "oh well, it's not okay for me but it's fine if you want to do it." We should never call something good which is evil and never "normalize" sinful behavior so as not to offend. We must speak the truth in love and stand our ground. If we really believe what we say we believe than we know the terrible ramifications of homosexuality. Right now there is absolutely no fear or respect of God. It is like scripture says in the end times "they have a form of spirituality but deny the power thereof." Christ is being removed from our churches and is being replaced by political correctness.

  2. Hi Bobo. Thank you for your comments. So how do you think the call to "speak the truth in love" relates to how the church should relate to society in light of Paul's words in I Corinthians 5 and Jesus' words in John 3?

  3. I generally just explain that God has shown us the way to live which brings peace and happiness. I might not fully understand why but God has revealed that homosexuality is not healthy behavior. I really am convinced that seeking our own sinful desires is contrary to the Spirit and grieves the Spirit. It is idolatry. A non believer can not grasp that and oppose me on it but nevertheless in our current government I am able to vote. I also am very concerned about calling good which clearly evil. We all sin

    I was born with a sinful nature and without Christ I wouldn't really care about society as long as gt my way. I also don't want my children to be force fed lies about their sexuality. Normalizing homosexual behavior and saying it is okay in society is wrong. Clearly wrong and opposes scripture. You either believe or you don't. Christ did not come to change the rules of the game. He gave us a get out of jail free card at a very high cost.

  4. Now believers who live in and endorse this behavior I judge more harshly because they know the truth and are not walking in it. Especially Pastors and teachers because they will be judged more harshly for spreading lies. Scripture is very clear on how to handle this in the church. In love and as outlined in scripture.

  5. Our church gathered signatures in front of Safeway to put the gay marriage issue on the ballot so it wouldn't become automatic law. The response has been overwhelming positive even in a predominantly democratic city. Almost all Hispanics who were registered to vote signed it. A Muslim woman signned it too. Over 1200 signatures in 2 weeks. One very sweet timid elderly womana was verbally assaulted in a very vile manner but she knew who the man was really raging at. I always pray that I will represent Christ well and be kind and loving

  6. Thank you Bobo, but I think I should be clear. I know that homosexual behavior is wrong according to scripture, especially promiscuous homosexual behavior. The scriptures condemn sexual immorality of every kind (whether heterosexual or homosexual). This is not in dispute. My question is how do we relate to the world when the world does not know Jesus? If condemnation is our first word, then we have clearly misunderstood the gospel (see John 3:17). Our first word needs to point people to Jesus as the one who reconciles us to God (which is not a get out hell free card as you so aptly put it). Sin = separation from God, and apart from Christ we are all separate from God whereas in Christ we are reconciled to God and made forever right with God through true faith. So the question really comes down to this: "Is sharing the good news about Jesus primarily offering condemnation to the world, or is sharing the good news about Jesus primarily about telling people what Jesus has done to reconcile us to God?" That's the heart of what I am trying to address. Everyone is free to vote their conscience and participate in gathering signatures. These are freedoms offered to citizens of a free country, but I do not think that is what it primarily means to share the good news about Jesus. So I would be glad to hear your thoughts about that. What do you think - again in light of I Corinthians 5 and John 3?