A cause, hmmmm, well, if I think hard enough and get really honest with myself I guess the main cause is the pain and uncertainty that several friends from the blogosphere as well as real life are suffering at the present. I’m a helper. You have a problem? I want to help. I want to make it all better. If everybody would just behave themselves the way I think they ought then the world would be a better place. Ha! Trueself, supreme benevolent dictator of the Trueworld. There’s one for you. If that doesn’t give you a laugh then you’re visiting the wrong blog.
So as I’m writing this little self-indulgent (for if not in one’s own blog then where should one be self-indulgent) diatribe I picked up a book (Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King) that a coworker left for me today after lunch. It is a workbook to be used in an upcoming Bible study at her church that she has invited me to attend. I leafed through it and the following heading caught my eye: Helping Each Other Obey. Curious, I read the section. The following excerpt from the section vindicated me in what I said in yesterday’s
Many modern day churches have shied away from discipline in the church. One reason is that sometimes church discipline was abused in years past. Churches used discipline in frivolous or vindictive ways that did not demonstrate a loving and caring spirit. . . As a pastor, I determined I would not get upset because people were spiritually sick. I just saw that as the reason God put me there. I set about to love them back to health. I have never found God’s people unresponsive when correction comes as a genuine demonstration of love.
When God disciplines His children, He is demonstrating perfect love for them (Heb. 12:6). If we love our brothers and sisters we will discipline them in a loving manner to help them return to fellowship with God. This is a way we can help each other, but it must be done only out of a spirit of love. The Bible gives us some guidelines about loving discipline:“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matt. 18:15-17).
Do you remember the instructions of 1 Corinthians 13 about godly love? Love will be patient and kind. Some who have strayed may require much loving before they return. Loving discipline requires that you first approach a person privately. Any discipline should only come at God’s direction. Loving discipline will call for much fervent prayer. Do not be hasty in moving to stages two, three, or four. You, too, are a sinner saved by God’s grace. Someday you may need the loving correction of a Christian friend. Treat others as you would want to be treated. In so doing you may win the lasting friendship of your Christian brother or sister.
There. That’s what’s bugging me. What’s bugging me is how messed up the Christian community has become with regards to the discipline of sinners. Anyone who has read what I’ve written before and concluded that I don’t believe that sinners should be accountable for their sins or that we should happily turn a blind eye to sin have sorely misinterpreted my writings. I believe strongly in loving discipline, in both parts of that phrase, the loving as well as the discipline. I believe that Christian society (in general, I’m sure there are pockets of better behavior in places) has split down the middle either moving too far in the direction of loving without discipline (anything goes) or too far in the direction of discipline without loving (kick ‘em out if they’re found out).
That’s all. I feel better now.