“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber - 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. ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you.’” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) Christians are often seen by “outsiders” as judgmental. They aren’t wrong. We have a set of standards to live by that we project by our behavior. There are times when we have members who are sliding away and, like Paul suggested to the Corinthians earlier in chapter five, it is up to the rest of us, gently but firmly, to correct that person’s path if we can. The problem with that is we are human and need constant reminders that we aren’t meant to police the rest of the world. Our secular job consists of being an ambassador of Christ into the world: Bring His face into focus for those who have never met Him or for others who have forgotten what He looks like. Christ wouldn’t scream at the people, waving His arms and go on into a raging rant. He would calmly and most lovingly speak to those who would listen (that phrase in itself is a 50-page dissertation) and allow them to recognize and own up to their sin, to want to know more about His love, His peace, His forgiveness. You see, most folks don’t want chaos in their lives, but, sadly, most folks don’t know Jesus and that our abiding faith and trust in Him is what keeps us free of their chaos. And we can only convey that idea to them by actually being like Him. If we want to plant seeds, we disturb the soil, carefully drop in the seed, gently give it a covering of dirt, then water it thoroughly and often. None of this is violent. It is never our place to judge outside our church family. God will one day judge us all, both those inside and outside His family, and we might be very surprised with the outcome. Judge if you must, scripturally, but keep it where it belongs.
October 25, 2023
Judge If You Must