I was sitting on my bed, trying to think of how to introduce the next two chapters and saw the heading in my NIV Study Bible. Yeah, that pretty much sums up this discussion on church discipline, a discussion that I hesitate to even talk about. That's why I didn't blog yesterday. I was thinking about how to approach the topic.
Do I talk about the judgmental attitudes of the 70s and 80s? In those days, pastors and church leaders never confessed any sin because, well, if you were a good Christian, you basically had no sin, I guess. Our youth pastor had an affair, and the lead pastor allowed him to transfer to another church. Very few people in the church knew about it, and his wife didn't find out until fifteen years later when he strayed again.
Do I talk about hypocrisy? How we point fingers at certain sins, especially sexual sins, but ignore others, like unethical business decisions? Several years ago I watched a small group blow up because of inconsistency, because some members felt that other members should be basically excommunicated from the group because of sin, even as they were participating in serious sin.
Do I talk about how we sometimes ignore sin altogether because we want to be loving and tolerant, and because we don't want to be guilty of the above?
Paul is very clear, we are not to "associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."
Sometimes Christians use this concept to avoid spending time with non-Christians, but Paul makes it clear that's not the case. He says he does not mean people of the world, "in which case you would have to leave this world," but people who confess to be followers of Jesus, but don't live like it.
No, this passage is about people in our fellowships, people who continue in sin, who boast that there is no law, that they can do whatever they want because they are free in Christ, who says, "everything is permissible for me!" (6:12)
So what do we do with that?
What do we do when we have spoken to that person, like instructed in Matthew 18, and he or she continues to live in serious sin and actually leads others to sin?
I know what this passage says, but I hesitate. I understand the concept of "turning him over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed," but at what point do we make that decision.
And who makes that decision?
And where is grace? forgiveness? love?
No answers. Only questions.