Christians are often seen to judge those who behave poorly outside the church yet excuse a similar behaviour of those within the church. In the past year the church has been seen to stand against issues of gay marriage yet cover up issues of sexual sin in churches. The result has been a loss of trust and influence with the wider community. How can the church be people who promote sexual ethics when our actions say otherwise?
Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:34-35) Our actions towards one another should demonstrate that we are followers of Christ. Yet that was not what Paul saw when he looked at the Corinthian church. In yesterday’s passage the church was turning a blind eye to serious sin in their community, and today’s passage further highlights the call to live as God’s Kingdom people.
Paul does not call us to live in a Christian bubble and not associate with sinners. The world is full of sinful people and Paul leaves God to judge those outside the church. His concern is that those within the church do not associate with those who claim to be believers but are seen to demonstrate sexual immorality, greediness, idolatry, abusiveness, drunkenness or theft. His core concern is that the Christian community distinguishes itself unapologetically by its allegiance to Christ. Those that demonstrate a life apart from Christ need to be called out, and if necessary, separated from Christian community.
The recent discussions in the media around the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse and the prevalence of Domestic Violence in churches should illustrate for us just how important this is. We need to be God’s Kingdom people holding each other accountable to live in a way that honours him as our King, for the sake of our communities and our witness to the world. It starts with an openness to accountability for our own behaviour in our life groups, gospel communities and discipling relationships. Who will you allow to hold you accountable as you seek to live as Jesus’ disciple today?