Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beat Up By Church?

I know there are bad churches and pastors out there. They may even be the majority and I'm speaking of the evangelical ones.

There are also many stories of people who were "beat up by the church". Some of them are valid. Here is one thing that bothers me though: many people who claim a bad experience with church were or are living an immoral life. They wanted a pat on the back but got something else.

I know there is a right and wrong way to deal with sin in other people. It should be done in love but it should be done. It is not loving to ignore it.

1 Peter 4:8 says this: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. I think this really comes into play in places like marriage where we have the daily crap of another person to deal with. There is a lot of small stuff that needs to be forgotten. The same holds true in many other relationships.

But there is sin that does need to be confronted both in personal relationships and in the church. Immorality would be at the top of the list. Paul confronted the Corinthian church for their failure to deal with sin. See 1 Corinthians 5 for the story. He rebukes them for their tolerance and delivers the offender to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. He goes on to tell us that we should not associate with a so-called brother, that we should judge sin in the church and that we should remove the wicked from the church. The thing talked about is an unrepentant person; one who is practicing sin. The good part of the story is they followed his advice and the person later repented and was restored.

If sin in the church is not dealt with it is like yeast. It grows and infects the whole church. This is easy to see. If a church is soft on divorce they will see a landslide of divorce. If they ignore sex outside of marriage they will soon have many people filling the pews that are living together and feeling fine about it. If speaking against abortion is avoided, abortion will become more common in the church.

When I was a brand new Christian in 1973, I had a good experience with what some would call harshness. I had a dramatic conversion with all of the wonderful good feelings that come with it. A few weeks later I went up for prayer after a Bible study and told one of the leaders that I felt God was no longer with me. His response was swift. He told me I was a liar. He then went on to explain that it was not about feelings. Talk about an embarrassing kick in the butt yet it was what I needed. I count that experience as a turning point. I learned early that truth trumps feeling. I love Scott Hinkle for loving me enough to tell me the truth.

Some people are too harsh and some are too wimpy. In confronting our own sin we should find our bad tendency and deal with it. Then we should go out in love and kick some butt for Jesus. It's time to stop tolerating blatant immorality and those who promote it in the church.

Philip

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