February 7, 2014

1 Corinthians 5:11 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.

If this verse were really honored and obeyed, a lot of churches would be decimated, or else the few righteous would simply have to leave! Much of the Church seems to have forgotten about repentance. This isn’t about being judgmental, it’s about “[living] a life worthy of the calling [we] have received.” (Ephesians 4:1) Paul said very frankly in the verse just before this one that we would have to leave the world to avoid non-Christians who fit the categories he mentions; his beef is with those who claim to be Christians but live like anything but. A very important point to remember is that he isn’t saying that these people won’t make it to heaven if they have confessed Christ; verse 5 is specific on that point. However, claiming the title of Christian means we bear the Name of Christ, and we must not dishonor that. The old Spiritual, frequently sung at Christmas, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” has a line that says, “And if I am a Christian, I am the least of all.” We are to be very aware of our own imperfections, but we are to honor the Name of Christ above all. Yesterday I was reading a blog post from Great Britain that talked about how few of their leaders, while claiming to be Christian, were living as though they were. The post included a picture of the Prime Minister participating in a Hindu festival with his wife, pouring water over a Hindu idol. That would certainly run afoul of this verse! And I’m very sure that American politicians, as a class, are no better. There are certainly exceptions, but they get accused constantly of “intolerance” and assorted other things. It’s time for the Church to discard Political Correctness for the garbage that it is, and stand on the Word of God in love. “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) does not mean calling darkness light! (Isaiah 5:20)

I know from experience that this isn’t an easy thing to live by. In my pastorate in the US, a previous pastor had a total breakdown because of trying to deal with a church officer who was having an affair. That man was in the church while I was there, though to my knowledge was not in active immorality. An even more difficult point to deal with is the matter of greed, which Paul mentions. Part of society actually celebrates greed, in one way or another. For some, it is amassing more material goods, but for others, it is consuming jealousy toward those who have more than they do. Either one is greed, and in Colossians 3:5 Paul rightly equates that with idolatry. My question as a pastor is how to deal with those caught in such traps. Sadly, many Japanese Christians participate in Buddhist or Shinto rituals so as to not “make waves” with their family and friends. That runs directly afoul of this verse! I don’t think that’s an issue in this church, but I know of churches where it is. I must always walk in humble submission and obedience to God, speaking His truth in His love, not discarding that truth for fear of offending. Political correctness deflects people from heaven and sends them to hell!

Father, it’s easy to get worked up over this issue. Help me keep my eyes on Jesus and walk in Your peace. May I be the shepherd You want me to be in every respect, so that we as a people may be fully pleasing to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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