I’m no historian, but I believe, in order for us to truly understand what our faith in Christ is supposed to be, we have to understand it in the context of where it began: Israel in the first century AD.
Jesus came to a Jewish people, those who had lived their whole lives in the context of a Jewish faith dictated by the law of Moses. He came to a people who had been taught their whole lives that the only way to God was to totally and explicitly keep every letter of the law. He came to a people who were beaten down by a harsh religious system that had long ago become devoid of any heart and passion, and had instead been reduced to a series of a few “dos” and many, many “don’ts.”
He called them “sheep without a shepherd.” Why? Because those who were supposed to be shepherds were more interested in their own self-preservation and the propagation of their own status than they were about the poor, hungry, weary, burned out masses.
That same Jesus has a message of hope for this poor, hungry, weary generation as well. Are you tired of not feeling good enough? Are you weary with the effort of trying to keep up with a religious system Jesus never intended? Are you burned out on a system that forces you to keep a set of rules (many of which are man-made) or be judged, excluded, or excommunicated?
The same Jesus who brought hope to those sheep without a shepherd is moved with compassion over you as well. Forget them! Come to Jesus. Come now, come quickly! There is rest, there is hope, there is forgiveness, there is mercy, there is grace for you.
I know I’m beating this drum a lot lately, but it’s an important one. Please listen to the call of the Savior. His is the only voice that matters.
#1 by Erica on November 17, 2010 - 9:05 PM
Excellent points. I do think church discipline is Biblical, though, when it comes to continual and willful sin without repentance on the part of a believer. Most churches don’t have the guts to implement it in love as Biblically specified, which can include excommunication (being put out of the church until one repents – at which time one would be welcomed back with open arms.) I also think that many churches implement man-made and driven rules that have nothing to do with God’s plan for the church. God’s plan is in His Word. Most churches I grew up in put down what they called the “social gospel” – yet caring for the poor and the weary is especially Biblical. It has been a long time since I have felt subjected to a religious system but remember all too well what that was like! It would have destroyed my life (both physically and spiritually) had I stayed. Weird – most of those churches happened to be Charismatic/Pentecostal churches and I recall very clearly the day I walked out, thinking “This isn’t God’s love”. Although I still believe in spiritual gifts, I have embraced those congregations… Fellow followers of Christ who receive God’s abundant grace, hunger for Him, and include the very important social aspects of the gospel (like caring for the poor), as well. I wish I would have known about your book the last time I ordered from Amazon.com a couple of days ago… I would like to read it.
#2 by Dave Kirby on November 18, 2010 - 12:26 PM
I totally agree on the church discipline. But that looks totally different when it’s within the context of a loving community who live life together and are unconditionally committed to one another. In our current system, very few believers are connected to that kind of small, close-knit community. In fact, most people get lost in church. We can sit in a pew, throw a few bucks in the offering and nobody knows the stuff we are dealing with in our lives.
There is a big difference between loving accountability and the condemnation and judgment most people feel from the church these days.
I hope you get a chance to read the book. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it when you are done.
#3 by Erica on November 18, 2010 - 9:27 PM
I was so fortunate to be a part of a loving congregation of 200-300 people (for about 10 years) who were truly the Body of Christ to me. I’ve witnessed first-hand how church discipline in a very loving way – with the goal of restoration and healing – can be extremely powerful. Nonbelievers even witnessed the actions of this congregation and were amazed at the love they demonstrated. It was a real witness and testimony to the love of Christ. One of the saddest days ever for me was the day my ex husband was excommunicated in love. This was after almost 2 years of loving help and discipline (not in a condemning way). At the congregational meeting about the excommunication, my pastor charged everyone in the congregation not to gossip about my ex or he would be on their doorstep holding them accountable. The goal was restoration. My ex was rebellious at the time and wanted to pursue addictions and another way of life away from God. We “let him depart.” It was a couple of months after he married someone else that he had a talk with the pastor and said that he was sorry about everything.
During those years afterward, I did not lack for anything as the church leadership insisted on treating me like a widow in the church. I never mowed my own grass as the deacons did it. The deacons made repairs to my house free of charge. Free consulting with a financial advisor and help with my new budget. They wanted to make sure that I was cared for in any financial way that I needed as I healed so that I would not feel any financial need to marry again too soon. My neighbors, people I worked with, my family – everyone was amazed at their love and kindness to me through that time. The whole process was a real testimony of grace. I was truly cared for during a very difficult time in my life and they were there for my ex as well – as much as he would let them be at the time. When he decided to depart – they didn’t get pushy with him but rather released him, honored his choice, and supported me.
At the same time I went through this – another friend of mine at our church went through something similar. Her husband lost his job for performing lewd acts and was arrested. He submitted to the accountability of church discipline in a loving way and that congregation supported that family financially as well as spiritually and with counseling until he had gotten the help he needed and was back on his feet. During that time, the man volunteered at a homeless shelter (in a very accountable way) and was asked to work to help the poor while the church supported him. No one gossiped or looked down on the man. That was over 11 years ago and that family is still strong and together, serving the Lord.
I wish more churches had the love, support, and guts to be Jesus “with skin on” to their congregation and others. I’ll probably place another Amazon order before Christmas and definitely plan to order your book.
#4 by danielstaiculescu on January 5, 2012 - 10:11 AM
Church discipline comes in two types: formative and corrective. Formative discipline, or discipleship, seeks to help form the character and life of the believer. In this sense, every church disciplines it members. Jonathan Leeman has noted that “every church disciplines its members formally . That is, every church, even the unhealthy ones, teaches its members something. Discipline and discipleship come from the same root word, thus discipline is discipleship and discipleship is discipline. Either we are formally or correctively discipling, or disciplining, our members.
Corrective Church discipline is a response of an ecclesiastical body to some perceived wrong, whether in action or in doctrine. Its most extreme form in modern churches is excommunication where the offender is banished from the church community until such time as he or she repents or recants.
I think it very important to have both disciplines not just one.