Am I my brother's keeper? Am I responsible for the actions of others? Am I responsible to others for their actions? Those are two very different questions!
Am I to help my fellow Christian escape the darkness? Does God want to use me to show my Christian brother or sister where the light is? Is it my call to help with someone else's marriage? Their addiction to work? Their overuse of alcohol? Their theft of time?
Am I supposed to be open on personal these issues with other believers?
We live in a world that loves tolerance and lives by the motto: "Thou shall not judge". The message comes in many forms: "Who are you to judge? My choices are not impacting you. Leave me be. This is my life."
When it comes to being a part of the Christianity community, are we able to make such claims? Can we live any way we want and expect other believers to leave us alone?
1 Corinthians 5
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not 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.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
Remember when you first heard the gospel? Remember the message? Promises of forgiveness, peace and love. Being part of a community of grace. Purpose-driven living. That is all the good news and all true.
There is, however, another part to the story. The part where joy meets expectation. Where actions meet accountability. Where people speak into our lives, in deed are expected to speak into our lives.
Paul is doing that here in fact. He is challenging the believers in Corinth FOR not challenging this brother in sin.
I think it is fair to say that if the church had done its part in the life of this man that the judgment on him might not have been as harsh. As it is, he is removed from the fellowship, handed over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh and shunned by the Christian community. That's a rough sentence!
In those days, a person came to Christ and identified this new life with Christ and the church by baptism. If he was a Jew he was removed from the Temple. If he was a pagan he was removed from his cult. Regardless of how he came, the church was his new community. In some cases the folks even lost relations with their families for becoming a Christian.
So, when they were put out of the Church they came under unique pressures. One, they became the special target of Satan. Some sort of spiritual protection exists for believers in the Church that being uncovered makes them susceptible to spiritual attack. Two, they lost the fellowship of the Christian community. They were not even allowed at the meals.
Sounds harsh, right? Does to me. However, allowing sin in the church was causing the believers to be proud and turning the blessing of God back from them. It was ruining the church. Not just this sexually immoral guy but also the swindler, the drunk and the greedy! They were all strengthened to continue in sin!
If the individuals in the church would have first judged their own darkness, removed the log in their eyes they might have been able to help this guy and the others in their midst struggling with sin. As it was, they were lost at sea and requiring rescue.
We are not responsible FOR the actions of others but we are responsible TO the believer whose actions are out of line. Also, WE need to be open to others and allow them to speak into our lives.
First, how are you? Are there areas that you know are out of line that God wants you to deal with? God is not looking for perfection but for honesty. You need to make sure you are in a Church that understands grace. Not the grace that lets you do what you want but the grace that accepts you but will not allow you to stay stuck.
Deep down I think we all want to feel safe enough to tell people what we are struggling with and move toward the light. Deep down we know that this will bring healing and a closer connection with God. May I encourage you to find someone that you can be open with and share your life.
You have an obligation to encourage, exhort and rebuke with great patience and careful instruction. You have a calling in the lives of others. Church is not just about meals and friends. It is about glorifying God with our lives. It is about being honest in our pursuit of holiness. It is about bringing dark things into the light.
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