9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 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. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."Paul was writing to the Corinthian church about things they were allowing to occur within the body of Christ. And they were proud about it! They even allowed the type of sexually immoral conduct that would give pagans pause!
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2And you are arrogant!I read these words and I am caused to think of the church today. We allow some pretty nasty things in our churches. There's one church I read about that has even allowed an open atheist to be part of its membership. That to me makes no sense. And look at all the discussions on homosexuality that go on within churches and denominations. It's not right. Paul says, in essence, "STOP IT!" (Thinking of the Newhart counselling video)
But what really struck me with this passage was the injunction to not judge those in the world around us. That's not our job. It's GOD'S job. Just as we learned a few days back that God sees the heart (we don't). God is also the one who sees those outside the church. Our part of this job is to not associate with those who claim the label Christian and yet act very contrary to God's word.
So what then does that mean? We don't worship with them, we don't celebrate the Lord's supper with them, we don't let them serve on committees or teach Sunday School and so forth. It does not mean that we turn our backs on them walking down the street, or that we can't enjoy them as people. The whole purpose of not associating with them (bringing them under discipline) is to reunite them with Christ. Love them as people created in the image of Christ, but don't let those "non-believers who claim the name Christian" be a part of the body of Christ. Draw the line and say struggling with sin is good, it's part of life, but living in sin, living deliberately with what you know is contrary to God's will is not.
We need to do this! The world is watching us. If we allow people within our body to live wrongly, we are giving the world something to censure us for. THAT is not our task. We are, I am, to be, an example of Christ to the world. A king's child, called to a higher way of life. Let's live that way and hold our sisters and brothers accountable to the same.