What business is it of mine to judge those outsidethe church? Are you not to judge those inside?(1 Cor. 5:12)
A frail, elderly gentleman came to live with his son and family. His eyes were dim, and his hands were shaky. At dinner, the old man often spilled his food and sometimes even broke his dishes. So the family set up a special “safe” corner for him to eat by himself, with unbreakable wooden bowls. One day, the man’s grandson was making something with foam clay, and his dad asked him what he was doing. “These are bowls for you and Mom when you get old.” The grandfather was reseated at the family table that evening.
This family was willing to “expel” their grandfather from the dinner table just because he was messy. Similarly, while we can be quick to exclude and reject those who make us uncomfortable, we can be all too willing to turn blind eyes and include self-professed Christians in our fellowship while they openly and unrepentantly live in defiance of God’s standards for holy fellowship. People see the evidence of domestic violence, and yet turn away. Unmarried believers are unabashedly promiscuous, and no one is willing to lovingly confront them. Paul made it clear that believers united in love must hold each other accountable in the church.
While it’s easy to condemn and exclude the lost from the church for their morally loose behavior, most of them aren’t claiming to be something they’re not. But when Christians sin openly, it’s an entirely different matter. We are calling Jesus our Lord, so we are obligated to intentionally obey Him in all things.
Contrast how the church responds to the more culturally unacceptable sins of the world.
Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor; he is also the small-groups director at his church.