Thursday, February 14, 2008

Speaking of Which

I missed this one - last month the Wall Street Journal posted an article about the resurgence of the practice of Church Discipline. It's fascinating, if for anything, to pick out people's world views as they are quoted in the article.

Many people are still of the "Hey - it's my religion and my church; nobody has the right to muddle in my personal affairs" mindset. (Note to these people: you don't get it)

On the other hand, Legalism begins to rear its ugly head again, on the part of church leaders who wield the Mighty Sword of Discipline in order to maintain control and power. (Note to these people: go read 1 Peter again)

And, of course, the world looks on in bemusement and misunderstanding. Words like "shunning" and "sinners" are thrown around too lightly in this article.

All the while, I'm reading it and saying "there is so much more going on here than anybody is saying. Interpretation truly is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone is always innocent in their own eyes." (and a few other cliches).

The point is this - as followers of Christ, we are to pursue lives of holiness. When we enter into Christ, we give others the right to hold us accountable before our Lord. A healthy church will, from time to time, have to speak harsh words to those who willfully choose lives outside of Christ's call to righteousness. And in the eyes of a "Live-and-let-live" world, that will seem preposterous.

However, even church leaders are given to hubris and pride and control games (I found the article by following a link from another post about the current situation over at Mars Hill. . .), which means we ALL need to approach this with humility, with gentleness, with a strong sense of our own fallibility, and we all need to find people who can speak the truth in love to us.

And, mostly, we need the Spirit of Christ, because we sure mess things up when left to our own devices.

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