I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2 NLT)
Sometimes I think that it’s not our place to tell people they can’t be in our fellowship because of some issue or battle they are dealing with; that we should be understanding and accepting and forgiving and love people where we find them. And why not? Doesn’t that sound like Jesus?
I think that the Christians of this nation have become so “seeker friendly” that we’ve changed the Bible to a buffet line. We say “give me some of that grace, an extra helping of mercy, a double portion of blessings, but hold the accountability, the correction, and the hard lessons of wisdom.” God is not Burger King; you can’t have it your way. We are called to conform, not to make God conform to what we think. Maybe we’ve become too used to messages so watered down that we misperceive what is Jesus and what is not. So when we hear something, we think it’s Jesus, but it’s actually deception. I remember reading somewhere that even the elect would be deceived if possible.
But then I read this passage above and it’s like there should never have been any doubt. Are we bold enough to call people out? Do we have the audacity to speak the truth in love, not judgement? Or are we content with talking about them behind their backs and allowing the issue to remain unchecked? Or maybe we haven’t been holding ourselves to the proper standards and we remain silent out of fear of becoming hypocritical in calling out others.
I’m not suggesting that hypocrisy should necessarily be tolerable, just that the messenger’s level of hypocrisy doesn’t diminish the truth of the message. Granted, there is more conviction behind the words of someone walking the walk, but truth is truth no matter the source. Perhaps we need to remember that. Perhaps we first should hold ourselves to a higher standard so there is no discrepancy in hold others accountable.