Being and Becoming Christian
George Barna did a survey of church going Christians of the United States in the early 2000’s that gave a grave report of the state of their beliefs and resulting behaviors. There seemed to be no difference in the statistics of divorce in or out of the church, as an example. He bottom line, evaluative comment was this, “The church looks, talks and behaves just like those who don’t go to church.” There seems to be no difference. “Society, Barna goes on to say, is affecting the church more than the church is affecting society.”
Today, the church seems to be accepting more and more of what displeases God, allowing God’s intent for us as His people to get lost in our tolerance of all. I’m struggling with this. Are you? We are persecuted for standing up for what is right and wrong. A small piece of scripture, “do not judge” is thrown back in our faces by those who fight to justify their sins. It is a balancing act to confront sin but not judge.
Yes, “ALL have sinned”, you and I included, and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 8:28) That really means we sin, but we shouldn’t want to sin. We are forgiven by his compassionate grace, but we shouldn’t want to keep sinning and expect God to accept us as sinners with this attitude. The motivation of our hearts means everything to God. He knows when we are sincere. He knows when we are honest about sin and want to rid it of our lives. He knows when we are ready to give up the world and be transformed into His way of thinking and behaving. He knows our hearts!
It seems I can hear Paul’s grieving, compassionate heart as he pens the words that are strong, unworldly and unpopular to the church at Corinth. The Corinthian church could be any of our American churches today. We need repentance. All of us. We need to allow God’s continual transformation in us to be all He intended for us individually and corporately. God’s ways are uncompromisingly best for us. When will we learn?
1 Corinthians 5, The Message
1-2 I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?
3-5 I’ll tell you what I would do. Even though I’m not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can fully see what’s going on. I’m telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community—I’ll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can’t, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.
6-8 Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this “yeast.” Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious.
9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! 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.
Point to Ponder
With all of these words we cannot miss Paul’s heart’s desire in these key words in the middle of it all; “You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgement”. Don’t miss that. It is not about judging, it is about RESTORATION of our beloved brothers and sisters as much as we would want that for ourselves when we sin.
Dear Heavenly Father, We cry out for wisdom, insight and understanding. We offer our messy lives as an offering to You. Continue to do what you must to transform us to be all You intended for us to be. In Jesus Name, Amen But do it, gently, please.