Posts Tagged ‘church’

Father’s Day

June 22, 2015 5 comments

Today is Sunday, June 21, 2015. It’s Father’s Day. I have a lot of mixed emotions.

My dad still hasn’t reached out to me to try to talk to me, repent, reconcile, explain, or anything of the sort. He did send me a birthday gift recently. I suppose technically it is an act of communication. But it’s not one that feels very good. It’s not an act of communication which opens up the door to further conversation or relationship. To be honest, given how he has treated me and the rest of my family and many of his friends, I don’t see the sending of the gift as an act of love. I see it as him trying to feel better about himself as a father.

I didn’t reach out to him to wish him a happy father’s day. I thought about it, because it is weird after 29 years of having a relationship with one’s father to suddenly not and suddenly on father’s day for him to be absent by his own choice. It would also be disingenuous. I don’t want him to have a happy father’s day. I hope he has a miserable father’s day.

Believe it or not, I don’t wish this upon him because of some quest for vengeance. Some days I want revenge upon him for what he has done. But not today. Not most days. Thank God for the grace and mercy He has given to me so I might be equipped through His love to extend it to others. I do not hope he has a bad father’s day because I want him to suffer miserably. I think having a bad father’s day is what would be best for him.

Really. Imagine you abandon your kids and your wife to go sleep with other women and spend time with them and their kids. Imagine you treat your kids so horribly and then a day comes around which is purposed to celebrate you for the love you have for your kids. Of course you should feel terrible on this day. You should be thinking about the way you broke your relationships with your children. You should be feeling the pain of not having relationships with them. You should be full of regret.

If, in these circumstances, you have a happy and wonderful Father’s Day, then you’re a sociopath. You have no regard for others or willingness to experience the pain of the actions you caused. At least if he has a bad Father’s day, he is experiencing the pain his sinful actions have caused him. Perhaps his heart will become more tender because of the pain and he will be closer to repentance and turning his life back toward God.

Even though I am not too keen on Mitch at present, I don’t throw out the parent with the bathwater. There are a lot of character traits Greg exhibited in the past I am grateful to have experienced. He worked hard. He spent many mornings of my childhood up early reading the Bible and praying. He was willing to help people who needed it, sometimes even over and over after they kept screwing up. He helped out at church a lot, filling whatever roles he thought needed to be filled. All of the qualities are worth imitating, remembering fondly, and being grateful for.

However, when it comes to relationships, the present means a lot more than the past. You can’t have a relationship with memories. Positive memories don’t undo mistreatment of the present. They can’t fix the divide.

Sometimes I wonder on days like today what would I do if Mitch repented? What would I do if he actually was sincere about wanting to follow Jesus and therefore wanting to do whatever he could in his own power to set things right with his kids? What if he was open, honest, and seeking reconciliation? How would I respond?

I still don’t know. While certainly I would offer forgiveness and would be open to a conversation, one on my terms, I don’t know if I would be open to having a relationship with him or not. He is a person who has treated not just me, but those I am close to, love, and care for, with great disregard… that’s a nice word… with great evil. He blew up a family and left everyone else to deal with the consequences of his actions.

He left a young child alone and confused with a mother who was also alone and confused. He left his wife and church family in the middle of a dysfunctional time in the church’s life which he was well aware of. Rather than do something good, like working with his family and friends to bring positive changes to the church (among whom there were very many who would have worked with him side by side to do so), or to bring his family to one of the many other welcoming churches in the Chippewa Valley, he left everyone to deal with the mess they were in and added to it a whole other mess which was even more difficult and painful. He abandoned his wife and kids to run off with someone else, even though he knew they were in a precarious situation. He was well-placed in a position to bring about positive change in his church community on behalf of his family or to protect his family from potential harm by going elsewhere. Instead of this he abandoned his post, his wife, his kids, and his friends and ran off to sin without being held back and restrained by the relationships of those who loved him.

I’m not sure I would want a person who has been so heartlessly mean to those I love in my life even if he did regret his actions and want to change. I’m not sure I could trust someone who did those things. I’m not sure if he would be a safe person to be around, for me or for those close to me. Certainly if I had kids I would feel quite protective of them ever knowing him given his track record. It’s a difficult thing to think about and to know what is right, especially in the realm of the hypothetical.

If the pattern of the last 11 months is any indicator, I may never have to worry about it.


I Might Be Insane: The Kingdom Is Not One Of Clothing

February 11, 2013 1 comment

​Clothing is for covering nakedness, keeping warm, protecting skin, and supporting sensitive members. I love clothing for these reasons (there are probably a few more too). I’m a big fan of all the pragmatic uses of clothing. I also love when people choose to express their individuality through clothing choices.

​Clothing has a lot of other social functions that I am not a fan of. Clothing can be a way of boasting about disposable income. Some people convey professionalism and capacity through their clothing. Clothing is used to try to look attractive. Clothing is used to acquire acceptance and respect from others. Clothing is used to receive praise. Social rules which most people understand and accept underly our use of clothing.

​I find these rules to be shallow and limiting of people. The rules divide people based on class, income, social position, culture, power, attractiveness, respectability, career, etcetera. The rules include expectations of “proper” attire for particular places and/or situations. The expectations and divisions of the rules are the source of much judgment of others for the clothing they wear. Clothing is another way for humanity to make presuppositions about others, evaluate who they are, assume things about their life, and judge them for how they cover their nakedness and keep warm.

​Our rules about clothing are silly and unfounded. The only reason these rules exist is because everyone lives as if they do. They have no real grounding in reality. There is no reason these clothing rules must exist, but the rules will continue to limit people, marginalize outgroups, result in judgment, and create division as long as people continue to participate in them and enforce them. For the sake of unity and freedom,  I believe kingdom people should seek to overturn these rules about something as superficial as clothing, but churches participate in these rules as much as the rest of society.

​I was once questioned for my attire (I assure you I wasn’t showing any cleavage or too much leg) at a church by someone willing to have a discussion about it. When I asked him why he believes in wearing a certain type of clothing to church, he said it was to show respect to God. I’m all for showing respect for God, but I don’t know where we got the idea that God feels a lot of respect when we wear a coat and tie. God’s not that petty and narrow minded. In most churches, there is an understood proper and improper attire, but again, these rules are arbitrary, unecessary, promote judgmentalism, and limit expression. I imagine that in most churches if the pastor was to wear footie pajamas while preaching, there would be a negative response from the congregation. Some might think it was just weird, but many would think it was improper. In reality, there is no inherent impropriety in wearing footie pajamas to preach. It’s only improper because everyone is crazy.

​That all said, some people do feel disrespected when someone wears a type of clothing they don’t like. Success in the economic world is often contingent upon clothing choice. I struggle with trying to show people respect and wear clothing others consider befitting for a particular job or circumstance. I can both wisely submit to these rules while acknowledging they are pretend and engaging in non-participation when the opportunity arises. I know and am persuaded that clothing choice is not important in itself, but it is important for anyone who thinks it is important. For if my brother is grieved by what I wear, I am no longer walking in love. Through love, I can participate in the bullshit while still preaching the kingdom of God that is not about suits and shoes.

Simply Church: Authority

March 6, 2012 1 comment

There’s no way around the necessity of authority in the church. There is, admittedly, a part of me wants to perform some rad, 10.0 deserving, theological tricks and stunts that show authority in the church to be superfluous. Those familiar with the blog know that I can’t do this. Although I often have unique perspectives which surely are wrong sometimes, I at least always try to be true to Scripture even if I fail in that regard. Authority is inextricable from a Jesus community.

This topic may also benefit from a family perspective. In my family, there are a lot of different roles invested with different types of authority. Greg is the authority on money. Jessica will figure out what to do when people are hanging out together and everyone else will go along with it. Jenn will use her power to keep the peace and seek the maintaining of relationships. I suppose I’m the one looked to for a cogent perspective on Scripture and politics, and if there’s a problem I’m going to bring it to the surface. Graci keeps things fun. Jared… I’m not quite sure what his role is, but he’s one of the first people I test out new perspectives on because he has a solid BS detector. The point is that in a nuclear family roles of authority often arise naturally. Church authority often does the same.

Paul is an example of someone who has a lot of authority in the New Testament. Based upon Paul’s letters as a whole, it seems to me that Paul does not think primarily as himself being one with authority. Rather Paul believes his message about Jesus is from God and therefore that message and its implications for life together as a family is authoritative. As any prophet or apostle would, Paul believes his role is to make sure that the people who are supposed to be the embodied proclaimers of this message are embodying the message well. His unyielding insistence that believers listen to his words is not the result of his belief in his own authority, but his belief in the authority of the gospel he proclaims.

The work Paul did in proclaiming the gospel around the world and starting churches through this proclamation gave him authority over churches. In 2 Corinthians, Paul indicates that his authority is from God given to him for building up the church in Corinth because Paul started the church in Corinth. Paul’s actual authority over Corinth, while given by God, is only effectual insofar as Corinth chooses to submit to Paul’s authority. Thus, although the authority is from God, it only works because of a mutual understanding between Paul and Corinth that he is an authority on certain topics. Regarding Paul, this organically grown authority characterizes many of his relationships with local churches across the Roman empire. Churches looked to Paul as an authority to help them solve their disputes and answer their questions and so Paul became the authority. Most of Paul’s letters to churches (all?) are a response to a query to Paul, from the church.

In Acts 6, there is a group of seven that are given authority over an important element within the Jesus community, the distribution of food. I love the way that they are given authority. The twelve tell all of those who follow Jesus to pick out seven men who are full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, and have a strong reputation. Basically, the people who were going to be subject to those in authority chose people to be in charge of food distribution that they already deeply respected, whose relationship with Jesus they trusted, and who they trusted to make wise decisions. Everyone was pleased with this manner of choosing authority. I submit this process is a very natural way of formalizing authority.

In some of the epistles, we find descriptions of a similar way of assigning authority. A simplified paraphrase of the requirements for overseers in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 is: “You know those followers who have been around for a while, no one has anything bad to say about, make good decisions, know Scripture well, are full of kindness, and everyone already has respect for? Yeah, those would be good choices for overseers.” Paul describes people who are already thinking, acting, and living like overseers should live and then says that these are the people who should have overseer authority.

The question I always ask is: If these people are already people who teach the word and stand up to those with false doctrines, if they are already people worthy of emulating, if they are already people who have respect in the community and are looked to as an authority, why does their need to be a formalization of authority? If a spade is a spade and most people pretty much understand it’s a spade, why do we need to call it that?

Formalizing roles helps maintain the integrity of the community. If there is no people set to decide what is the gospel and what isn’t or what the Jesus community should and shouldn’t be doing, then everyone has an equal say. If everyone has an equal say and everyone thinks something different, then no real decisions about anything will be made. If everyone in the community votes on something, then we are in danger of a mob-ruled Jesus community rather than a gospel-ruled gathering. When new believers enter the community, they don’t have to try to figure out who is the implicit authority regarding preaching or food or pastoring or prophesying because these people have been given explicit authority. It is recognized authority that allows the church can grow as fast as it wants while retaining its central purpose and focus. Making roles explicit and attributing amounts and areas of authority to those roles allows a community to function much more efficiently by maintaining consistency during growth, solving family problems quickly, and keeping the direction of the family consistent.

All authority in the church is deferential in nature. The Messiah is the head and we are the body. My elbow and shoulder largely determine where my hand is at all times, but it is my head that determines what the elbow and shoulder do. The elbow and shoulder have, in a sense, directing authority over the hand, but all three of them work together as peers to accomplish the purposes that the head determines.

If you want to read some interpretations that paint authority in a less positive light, see: Paul’s Conciliatory Ways With The Jerusalem Powers and “It would not be right for us… to wait on tables”

Simply Church: World Rectification

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

We are a family with a mission. Our family has been charged with caring for creation, and because creation has been messed up, we have been charged with the rectification of creation. We don’t just exist because we happen to be born from the same parents, we exist because Love invited us in and we wanted that Love to consume our lives. When love consumes us, we must express it. A part of this expression is rectifying what has gone wrong with the world. Setting things right is one of our purposes for existing.

I want to reiterate that the first purpose of the family, and by far the most important, is to be formed into the likeness of our older brother Jesus who is the idyllic human reflection of our Dad. Our primary goal as a family is to be an incubator for Dad’s transforming love. Our secondary goal is inseparably connected to the first, we love God by becoming like Him, and in becoming like Him we are filled with love for the world that reaches out to invite others into our family. These are solutions to the two real problems in the world, which are: All of humanity has not been reconciled to their true Father and those that are reconciled have not yet grown up to be like Him. Everything else is symptomatic.*

Treating symptoms of sin’s disease is still worthwhile, honorable, an act of love, and a reflection of our Father. Ultimately though, if we are not bringing people into the family and strengthening the family, we aren’t really solving the problems. I think that while we treat symptoms out of love, not motivated merely by the desire for converts, we need to keep in mind that there is nothing more loving than the reparation of a broken relationship with Dad because this brokenness is the . I’m not trying to undermine the importance of treating symptoms as this manner of love expression is beautiful and there is great reward in heaven for expressing it. I do want to make sure we are primarily focused on healing the disease even while we are treating the symptoms.

In Scripture, helping the poor is one of the most important ways we make the world right. Throughout both Testaments are injunctions to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless. In the U.S., I’m sure Christians give a lot of money to other people to do these things. However, I think that the further we are from the actual feeding, clothing, and sheltering, the less beneficial it is for the kingdom of God. Mass provisions of food in a mess hall, cardboard boxes full of free clothing, and mattresses on a floor are great because of their efficiency, but their impact in bringing more people into the family is diminished because the personal expression of love is diluted. It is one thing to put a scoop of mashed potatoes on someone’s plate, it is quite another to invite them to your dinner table in your home and engage them in conversation. The more intimately involved we are in helping the poor, the more our Father is put on display to those we are helping.

In many nations and in many cultures, oppression against certain groups of people is a serious problem. Often this oppression is based upon something like: socioeconomic classes, ethnicities, races, gender, religion, and perhaps sexuality. I believe that the response of the church to oppression should be twofold. We should first act to publically love the oppressed, declaring to them and to the oppressive government or culture that these people bear God’s image and should be treated with that dignity. Second, we should publically reveal oppression, denounce it, make clear its absurdity, and teach a different way. Through both of these actions, we are being God’s prophets to the world.

When humanity was first created God told them to find a name for the animals and take care of the world. The redeemed family of God is also called to be the caretakers of the earth and the animals. Paul describes creation as groaning in eagerness, longing for the family of God to be fully transformed into the likeness of our Father in the glory of our resurrected bodies. Creation itself was subjected to the Fall when we were subjected to it. When we are in freedom and glory, creation’s freedom from bondage to corruption also ends because its caretakers are redeemed in full. In the meantime, we are to be caretakers over whatever creation is under our rule. Additionally, I believe that the church can also function as a prophet with regards to the world’s treatment of creation. Where the environment is being irreparably damaged, where animals are being pointlessly destroyed or cruelly treated, where orcas are subjugated to a lifetime of forced labor by their human enslavers, the prophets of God’s people should be speaking out as God’s voice to humanity.

More important than rectifying these things in the world, we should make sure that these things are not a part of our family. Let’s make sure that our family is not ignoring the poor or treating them dishonorably, creating outcasts, oppressing others, or destroying the creation God wants to redeem. May being adopted into God’s family mean that there is no black nor white, Arab nor Asian, slave nor free, male nor female, rich nor poor, and may it not matter if one was gay or straight, Muslim or Jew, for those of all pats are equally welcome to be God’s children. Insofar as our family is free of these problems, the solution to these problems is simple, we adopt as many people into our family as we can. The more brothers and sisters we have, the more the world is set right.

*I’m still not sure if this is hyperbole or true. Thoughts?

Simply Church: Conversation

February 6, 2012 1 comment

This should go without saying, but I still think it needs to be said. Deliberate, open, and Jesus centered conversations are an absolutely necessary part of a church. I believe that these conversations among brothers and sisters, including Jesus and Dad, are central to life in Christ. Conversation is central to expanding the family, strengthening the love in the family, and helping the family look more like our older brother (who is the spitting image of our Father).

Dialogue about the Scriptures very often brings far more understanding than a Sunday morning monologue. Sunday morning monologues can be wonderful, informative, and encouraging, but it is through dialogue that we sort out what we really believe about something. More importantly, it is through discussion that we figure out how the Scriptures should affect the way we interact with the world. Community conversations concerning how to respond to Scriptures are frequently the beginning of actions that build, strengthen, and expand the family.

Open and prayerful discussions about our lives, struggles, confusions, frustrations, sins, and questions is one of the most powerful tools of transformation that the Spirit uses to make us like Dad. God uses Scripture to help us deal with these things, He uses His direct presence in our lives, and He uses his body, the church, to bring us direction and help in our times of need. God’s Spirit often works through conversation between believers to mend our hearts and transform us into His likeness.

Conversation is one of the most important ways to love each other toward YHWH. Encouraging, exhorting, admonishing, supporting, helping, confessing teaching, prophesying, preaching, healing, forgiving, mercy showing, praying, celebrating, and the like all happen in the context of a conversation and are all essential for believers to exercise. Having conversations surrounding these things is not something that should just be done because it’s beneficial for us and our siblings, but also because making the most of our conversations is an act of obedience.

Intimate discussions about big questions, personal struggles, how to interpret Scripture and what to do about that interpretation, and the wounds of our souls do not happen enough in community. There are very few people that make them happen. I barely make them happen. We have many opportunities and we seldom take full advantage of them. And usually, it is some form of fear that holds us back. Letting fear hold us back makes no sense for a child of God, for far more than fear holds us back, love drives us forward. Be driven by this love to actively engage your siblings in these conversations because we can’t be the body of Jesus without them.

How can you make more of your conversations? What would help you pursue others through conversation?

The Church, the Gospel, and abuse of the pulpit

January 22, 2012 1 comment

The following is written by John Weirick. John is a physically distant and electronically close friend. He is a lover of Jesus, leader of men, communicator of the gospel, and, as displayed here, a wonderful exegete of the culture. You can find his website in my blogroll to the right.

Atlanta, Georgia’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, according to its website, is “built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ,” and has long been an environment fostering the social justice movement. Boasting its great history as a leading site of Civil Rights events and coordination, Ebenezer Baptist was even pastored by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s.

It’s not surprising that this was the location hosting senior White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, on the anniversary of Dr. King’s birth. It was reported that Jarrett praised Dr. King’s work as essential to the possibility of Barack Obama ascending to the Oval Office. Many may also remember that then-Senator Obama manned the pulpit in 2008 prior to reaching the presidency.

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“It felt appropriate to have her here,” said Rev. Raphael Warnock. Ebenezer is several weeks into a voter registration drive, which will continue until November elections, providing attendees the opportunity to register in the lobby before leaving the church facilities.

Jarrett spoke before Warnock’s sermon, and garnered the audience’s applause with two remarks in particular:

“We all sleep a little better at night knowing Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants are not plotting a terrorist attack against the United States.”

“Teachers and firefighters and policemen, whose jobs are now in jeopardy because Congress, well let me be specific, because the Republicans in Congress…”

More thoughts on news stories.    More thoughts on the Gospel.

Warnock’s sermon continued the politically charged theme, leaking tones of his liberation theological bent, even calling out Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich:

“Mr. Gingrich, let there be welfare reform, and let it begin with you…He is playing an old game that’s part of the southern strategy…I think he’s relying on old logic of scapegoating and race baiting.”

I am deeply disturbed, and I am not alone.

As we’ve joined Jeremiah on his thoughtful and concerned exposition of what the Church of Jesus should look like, this is no doubt an issue that has broad implications. There is no shortage of discussion material that could be explored here, including the proper relation of politics and the Church, individual Christians involved in politics, government roles, social justice, civil rights, racial tension, liberation theology, and other contentious topics. However, my main concern here is this: how should the Church use the pulpit?

Even setting aside the issue of the “legality” of all but endorsing a political candidate by hosting one of his top advisers and representatives, and speaking against a candidate (threatening non-profit, 501c3 status), this is a bold move by Ebenezer Baptist Church. [IRS: “…Public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.”]

Why did Rev. Warnock surrender the pulpit to such a figure? What did he hope to accomplish with this? Was this an intentional, thoughtful use of people’s time attending the church gathering? How is Jarrett’s celebration of the death of Bin Laden providing the audience meaningful spiritual substance? What perception does this give the public at large about Ebenezer Baptist Church? Or about the Church locally, nationally, or globally? Do we want the world to see the Church in this light, as a forum for more political and socioeconomic divisiveness? Does the Church not project a perception of who God is and what He’s like?

How should Jesus’ Church use the pulpit?

A position of leadership and speaking to a gathered body of people should not be taken lightly, and therefore must be stewarded wisely. The pulpit, as a placement of authority, ultimately belongs to God and not man; we are only borrowing it, but we’ll be held responsible for how it is used.

The intention of the pulpit is to proclaim and celebrate God’s truth in Scripture and the world, to remind us of His heart, to call us out of sin and to repentance, to cast vision for the direction God calls his followers, to instigate believers to live adventurously with God’s Spirit in loving and serving the world, and to bring us back to the centrality of life: while we were still stuck in the mire of sin, Jesus dwelt among us, died to put our sins to death, and resurrected to bring us also back to life in Him. The pulpit is about the Gospel, because without it, truth is incomplete, God is too impersonal, the world too un-navigable, our lives of no culminating significance, and grace too unattainable. The pulpit must be used to re-gather God’s people around their purpose for living, enjoying the Creator and His creation.

Perhaps most importantly, in this instance of opening the pulpit to a high-profile guest, where was Jesus?  Not once was Christ mentioned, nor was God name-dropped; neither was there a semblance of biblical teaching, instruction, or leading of attendees into a holistic, godly life following Jesus. [I realize the nature of news reports is to share only succinct soundbites and the most sensational statements, but there has been no shred of Jesus mentioned in any of the broadcasts or transcripts. I would love to be proven incorrect by hearing that Rev. Warnock actually did preach a sermon about Jesus, although it’s hard to argue that the Gospel would not be muddied by including such flagrant speech against a political figure in his same message.] To give a guest speaker, or even a pastor or leader figure, warranted time on the platform to share a message that is void of Jesus and the Gospel, is at best a disjointed, incomplete message, and at worst a disservice and disgrace to the Church for which Jesus died to redeem.

If we contrast how Jesus used the position of the pulpit (although a physical pulpit may not have been the precise location of his teaching), we see Him steward the platform for spiritual authority with great wisdom, boldness, and substance. In the Gospel accounts, for example, we see Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount and visit synagogues to read Scripture. In preaching a brief message based on the prophet Isaiah’s writings, Jesus’ exegesis of Scripture reveals that He is the fulfillment of it. The redeemer of the oppressed, the giver of sight to the blind; despite the imperfection of the world, He is making all things new. We would do well to rightly divide the word of truth in our stewardship of the pulpit.

Do you see unfitting use of the pulpit? What abuses must be avoided? How can we effectively and faithfully steward places and positions of authority?

John writes more at and is grateful for the opportunity and friendship provided by Jeremiah.

Simply Church: Making A Practice of Sin

January 11, 2012 3 comments

Sin is always a part of the gathering of believers. But sin doesn’t belong in the gathering of believers. Sin doesn’t make sense in the gathering of believers. Individuals in the gathering can not believe that it is okay to make a practice of sin while claiming Jesus as Lord. Living this way is an indication of not belonging to the the family.

When one who calls Jesus “Lord” continues in sin, that person has communicated that Jesus isn’t Lord. Their confession of His Lordship is nullified by their lives. Their confession of Jesus’ Lordship becomes just words, not an acknowledgement of what is true. John, who is very clear that everyone sins, talks about this continuing in sin quite a bit:

“Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…” (1 Jn 2:4)

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 Jn 3:6)

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 Jn 3:8)

Those who claim Jesus as brother and YHWH as Father, yet live life in a continuing practice of sin are not a part of God’s family. And we are to treat them as if they are out of the family,* because they are claiming to represent our Father while living like they represent the devil. They are continuing to work against the family by doing the exact opposite of what the family is supposed to do, accurately make known what our God looks like.

In some of Paul’s letters to different manifestations of the body of Jesus, he discusses what to do with those who are living in this way. Paul is most clear about this concept in 1 Corinthians:

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of the brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, revile, drunkard, or swindler– not even to eat with such a one.”

We are to reject those as family who claim to be family and live without love for the Father or our older brother who made the relationship with the Father possible. We are to be clear in our words and actions toward them that they are not family. Frequently in his letters, Paul mentions names of people who have been put out of the family because they claim to be a part of the family and are constantly working to destroy the family. Like most people from my culture, this idea makes me uncomfortable.

Why? Why can’t someone continue in sin and still be a part of the family? Why would our family throw someone on the streets? What kind of love is that? Isn’t grace enough?

It is not that the grace from the Father and brothers and sisters in the family isn’t enough, it’s that by stubbornly continuing in sin grace has been rejected. They reject grace while thinking that they have accepted it because they misunderstand what grace means for their lives. The purpose of the grace includes forgiveness, but it isn’t a free pass to sin without ceasing, it’s a free pass to cease from sin. Letting this misunderstanding of grace continue not only severely damages the family, but it is a death sentence to the one who continues in their misunderstanding. It would be unloving to allow them to continue in their sin and continue claiming YHWH as their Father.

With that, I also need to be clear that I believe there is a distinction between someone who is stuck in sin and someone who is continuing in sin. I know a lot of people stuck in sin. At various points in my life I have been stuck in sin. I have some things to say for people stuck in sin. Someone who continues in sin is not contrite about what they’ve done, not are they intending on turning toward Jesus and away from sin in their lives. Someone who is stuck in sin is contrite, turns toward God and away from their sin, and needs to figure out how to stop turning away from Jesus and back to their sin. These people need compassion, encouragement, forgiveness, mercy, teaching, prayer, and strong admonition, but they are siblings – as long as their repentance is sincere.
*I say all this with a lot of heavy sighing.

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