Monday, April 23, 2012

1 Corinthians 5:11-13

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

(The Message: But I am saying that you shouldn't act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can't just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I'm not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don't we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.)

We are Spirit-bearers, our godliness is always more important than our comfort.  Consider that if we are living godly lives, then we are teachable.  We have humility to receive correction and in that same spirit to give it (Spirit-led words, not mouthy, sassy, "church" talk).  But, like house cleaning, we do a bit at a time, not a major overhaul (not an Extreme Home Makeover nor a Hoarder's episode but a Pledge commercial - gentle strokes with the soft cloth of the Word) ... so, as we seek to have a "clean" life, we will be able to pass on the cleaning tips to our sisters and brothers.  The Spirit will direct us when we seek His guidance.   

Also, I was reminded of 1 Peter, where (I know this is directed at suffering; but it still speaks to right behavior) we are told to stop living like the Gentiles - that time is over.  We must look different, be different from the "pagans" or non-believers for both the world's sake and the church's.  (For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery ...). 

 It continues with the admonition to be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers.  My prayers are adversely impacted when I fail to be Spirit-restrained, contained and maintained.  It makes sense; but I don't always operate that way.  (so, please, those of you who know me, encourage me along the way everlasting.  don't allow me to get away with poser-Christianity-behavior for fun's sake or worse.  it's serious stuff.)  Help me.  Call me on it, as God directs.  I ask you to be gentle; but I'd rather you be merely obedient if gentleness can't accompany the message (sometimes, the message is hard and it's all the messenger can do to speak the words).  

Peter's letter sort of addresses this, too with his next words, (Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ).  Good stewards of God's varied grace. That's us.  Earnest lovers of one another and good grace stewards.  (that's a good reminder for me to begin Monday!).  

Peter addresses our behavior in that he charges us to not suffer as murderers or thieves or evil doers or meddlers (can I enrich the concepts of evil doer and meddler as gossips, fear-mongers, jealous ones, insecure brats, liars, prideful, manipulators, untrusting, mean girls, bullies, hyper-competitors); because any suffering we do as Christians should glorify God, not shame His Name.   

And finally, the verse which first came to mind: 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God ... (v. 18) “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"  Judgment must happen at the household of God and move out for (v. 7) The end of all things is at hand.  Grace and love must be our MO's; we can't be some maniacal church chicks and gents whipping out behavior tickets like crazy.  NO ONE would receive that and we would not glorify God in that.  

When God directs a word to be spoken you know it.  Prayer is very likely where you received the word, so pursue in prayer until you know where and how or have the peace and commitment to speak what He has shown you.  Take Him seriously.  It's difficult as we are not perfect.  But do not buy the lie that you have no right to talk to another person because you are so far from perfect yourself.  Ask God to show you where you are off, where the things of the world inform your behavior (rather than the Words of God, the Spirit's giftings and He that lives within you)  that you may have greater humility in your words.    You may find that you have a particular humility in that area or with that person, too.  

God does not need us, He does choose to use us.  We can speak into others lives as we need and desire to have the words spoken to us; the goal is being led to repentance.  And God help us if we, by our passive ways give approval to ungodly behavior in ourselves and among our brothers and sisters. 

Being mindful of the latter verses of Romans 1 and the first verses of Romans 2:  ... being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil ; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice ; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful ; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.  1 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself ; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly  falls upon those who practice such things. 3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God ? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance ?

Repentance from within first.  A  clean home/temple.  We will either be a good example or a terrible warning.  But, we choose.

None of this should be construed as a "go ahead and have that predator over for dinner." Do not share a meal (back in the ancient times, when you broke bread/shared a meal with a person meant that you were pledging yourself to him - you would protect him, you would guard him with your life, etc. { Light Through an Eastern Window by The Right Reverend Bishop Karnam C. Pillai, D.D}) is not quite the same as running into each other at Taco Bell or the cafe at Barnes and Noble.  
But, in no way do I ever want to be mild concerning obvious sin in a sister's/brother's life. It does need to be addressed...even though, they do know better. Interestingly enough, I actually encountered someone I know , (from church many years ago and never, ever see) who is living large in SIN this weekend and I didn't say a word to her regarding her choices. It didn't not occur to me to say word one to her. I wonder why. She and her husband are years gone from the church and they have a long history of not "preferring me" (that's probably not a small list, either =} ); but I don't think their lack of affection for me is why I did not think to speak to the issue.  I am challenged with what should be my response.... Other than grief. I am prayerful for this matter and for all of us as we seek to let the Word be our life.

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