Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Should you ever unfriend a fellow Christian?

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 5-6; Psalm 143

TO CHEW ON: “But now I write to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of [Christian] brother, if he is known to be guilty of immorality, or greed, or is an idolater—that is whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God—or [is] a person with a foul tongue (railing, abusing, reviling, slandering) or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person” 1 Corinthians 5:11 AMP.

The church discipline Paul recommends here sounds a lot like the “shunning” that happens amongst, for example, the Amish. To us, living in our postmodern culture of individuality and permissiveness, this kind of treatment may sound extreme. I’ve heard of members of religious groups taking to court church officials who disciplined them in such ways.

However, tolerated sin is dangerous. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul explains why, using the metaphor of leaven or yeast (which is almost always a type of sin in the Bible). Just like leaven grows to spread through an entire lump of dough, so, Paul says, sin left unaddressed soon permeates an entire congregation (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

The Israelites were to remove leaven from their homes in preparation for Passover. So, Paul argues, these Christ-followers need to deal with the leaven of sin in their midst when they gather to celebrate Christ (“keep the feast”-[2 Cor. 5:8—Passover and/or the Lord’s Supper).

Paul’s list of leaven-type actions they needed to address didn’t end with the sexual immorality of two members. To immorality Paul added greed, idolatry, "foul tongue"*, drunkard, swindler, robber.

Two takeaway thoughts from this passage:
1. I ask myself (and all of us)  are we guilty of the leaven on this list? Could we be spreaders of leaven in our churches? Could our attitude toward possessions, accomplishments, goals etc. ever be characterized as greedy or idolatrous? What about speech. Do we ever rail, revile, abuse, or slander? Are we disciplined in eating and drinking? Are we honest?

2. If our church leadership doesn’t enact discipline, we need to guard our own relationships.
Perhaps we should prayerfully consider separating ourselves from “brothers and sister” who live immorally, are greedy and worship the idols of possessions, accomplishments, prestige, leisure, whose speech is abusive and foul, who practice dishonesty.

PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to eliminate the leaven from my own life, and to guard my relationships with Christians who have slipped into a worldly lifestyle.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 143

* “Foul tongue” "Railing" (rail: to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation), and "reviling" (revile: to assail with contemptuous language, address or speak abusively - definitions from dictionary.com). 

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

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