I was thinking about church this morning and in general people in it. Specifically I was thinking about sinners. Of course most people don't believe the church has any for a number of reasons. Personally, I think the church is full of them. While thinking along the lines of fallen people I begin to contemplate on the various ways in which the "church" deals with sinners.
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I have firsthand experience with this as I was one who sinned while in church. My experience was not unique solely to me, but others received the same as I have.
It's a long road to coming back home and I believe the biggest obstacles can come through the very people who should be the greatest help.
I am often puzzled by the ferocious rebukes some receive while others are sorta passed along to someone else to deal with.
Before I go any further with my thought and I have a million replies about church discipline, I'm not saying people should not be dealt with when they sin. It should be dealt with.
What concerns me I suppose is the attitude that we have toward those who have sinned.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
I'm not going to try and expound the scriptures, but rather I will allow the Holy Spirit to do that for me.
I have come to the conclusion that most of us do not understand what true correction is and how it applies to a believer who has fallen into sin.
There are three distinct categories under which we group people who have fallen into to sin, depending on the seriousness of the offense.
The first way we deal with folks is;
Trash It/Them - Garbage Business
This is the most common way we deal with sin in people. It is far easier to believe that you are God's trash man than it is to accept that we should be meek considering our own self.
So, we either take it on ourselves to throw them away or we throw them at God's feet demanding they be stoned to death according to the law.
Jesus told the woman "caught" in the very act (hmmm) Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more!
So for the record... You are not God's broom sweeper nor or you His go to guy/gal to take out His trash.
The reason I know this is, while we look at the outward God looks at the heart.
There is no possible way you can know except by spending time in prayer and/or fasting whether or not the they will repent
The second way we deal with folks is to;
Pass It/Them- Garage Sale Business
This is not a garge sale!
You know what I mean? The sales you have to sell things you once treasured but don't want to throw in the trash, so you put a tag on it in hopes someone will buy it.
These are the kind of people that maybe just got born again and they sorta shift a little bit back to the old life, so we take it upon ourselves that "we are policeman in the "Holy Spirit's task force" therfore that gives us the "Holy Sanction" to pass them on. We would rather not get our hands dirty with people like this. We cringe on the inside that perhaps they will defile us. Often we just think that they never got saved to begin with.
This makes it real easy on our conscience when we believe this way.
These people often get traded off to someone else to deal with or handle because after all we have images to maintain in our churches and we don't want people to think we have failed.
The third way we deal with folk is to;
Stash It/Them- DIY Project -Cover Up
The TV is full of DIY shows. This is where you take something that was old and either restore it or remake it completely.
This is the church's favorite thing to do with people deemed worthy enough.
These are the ones who have tremendous abilities and giftings that we can't do without. So we overlook the overt sin and sorta stash them in a closet somewhere in hopes that we can "restore" them or remake them.
These are the ones we throw the "Welcome Home Prodigal Son/Daughter" Parties for...
To me this is the saddest of the bunch. While Trashing people is horrible and passing them off is as well, at least "God" will make sure that someone loves them as "He does" He will restore that which was lost.
Those that fall and have "talents" mostly marketable, will never repent as long as they are hidden from view.
So, in my opinion, and it's only my opinion... based on what I read in scripture
The best way to deal with folks who have fallen is this;
1) Love them - this is the single most importand thing you can do. James 5: 19-20
2) Tell them the Truth as revealed in scriptures but only if you have done number 1 Ephesians 4:15
3) Guide them in counsel and prayer, showing them their error only in meekenss of your heart, only if you have followed 1 & 2 Galatians 6:1
4) If they do not repent after 1,2 ,3 (I hate this one) then you must release them from your assembly so that God can deal with it! 1 Corinthians 5:5
5) Do not put yourself in a position to be the "Trash Man" or "The Garage Sale Man" or the "Cover up Man" Galatians 6:1
I will close with this...
Jesus stepped off the throne of Glory, laid down His God-power over us all to become man. Loving the people so much that He willingly brought Himself under the authority of death for sins He never committed. He became a sinner to redeem a sinner. Saying to us many times that He is our example. Do we have to become sin to redeem those in sin? Absolutely not, but we are required to love them, restore them if possible. The whole time considering that The Lord of Glory became sin, specifically my sin and your sin. He did not have these attitudes, trash, pass or stash toward us, because if He did, we would all go to hell where we actually deserve to be.
So when you deal with sin and sinners, keep the cross ever present in your heart and love the people accordingly! Consider your own vulnerabilty in your flesh to stumble and show the same mercy that you receieve from God.
Our goal, our desire is to restore people no matter what category "we" place them under. The heavens rejoice at the repented heart turned back to God!
We should do the same and it should be our objective, our mission. Isaiah 61
I'm hid with Christ!