What Would You Do?
I was a new born again follower of Jesus Christ, and I made the mistake of thinking everyone in church was like me. Well that sounded really arrogant–I mean, I’m not saying that I’m perfect, but I do know right from wrong. There was a woman I met at one of the first small group Bible studies I attended, affiliated with my church. We quickly became friends; having lunch together, and we even joined a weight loss program together. One day she had opened up, and started telling me things that were going on in her life, very serious things. I found it very hard to believe that she didn’t understand how serious things really were. She was so blind to something that was so obviously wrong. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of something, we don’t see so good. It was crystal clear to me, that she was having an affair on her husband. Of course I knew adultery is a blatant sin. Knowing this about my friend made my spirit uneasy, and I wrestled with what I should do. Should I be silent, and just let it go unnoticed? Should I address this whole situation? I knew something had to be said, but what? I absolutely knew that God had the answer, so I went straight to Him…
I prayed for guidance, even went to the computer and did a search for “exposing adultery.” Amazingly, the search resulted in exactly what I needed. I’ll explain–I ended up reading about Disorder in the Church, and how Paul condemned spiritual pride in chapter five of 1st Corinthians. Paul told the Church of Corinth that any sins that are left unchecked or ignored can infect and paralyze a church. In other words, poison spreads; one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. The Corinthian believers were ignoring a grave sin. One of the men, who was a member of the church, was having an affair with his father’s wife. Paul says it is the church’s responsibility to discipline flagrant sin among it’s members. “Flagrant” means obvious, outrageous, and disgraceful. Paul instructed the Corinthians to even go as far as excluding him from fellowship, in the hopes of motivating him to repentance. Depending on if he does repents and turns away from his sin, they should then return him to fellowship with the church. Paul isn’t saying we’re expected to be sinless. However, those who deliberately sin can jeopardize the spiritual health of a church. As followers of Christ, our role in the church is to help exhort or instruct those who are sinning, to repent and turn away from their sin.
Feeling very optimistic, I just knew that if I followed this council…my friend would respond like the loving Christian she portrayed herself to be. I sent my friend what I thought was a loving email confronting her sin. It didn’t take her long to respond. I was wrong about the loving, Christian response thing. It wasn’t pretty. She went ballistic! She replied back to me with an extremely defensive and hurtful email. She sounded furious! I was sarcastically accused of being a “perfect” Christian, and “How dare I” judge her? I would be judged by the measure I was judging her! Ever talk to someone who takes the Bible out of context, and twists scripture to suit them? She also told me that I needed Christian counseling!
I was taken aback by her accusations, so I went back to the Bible and reread 1 Corinthians chapter five. It just amazes me that when God wants to get a message across, nothing can stop it from coming! I was rethinking this whole thing, and considering that maybe I had no right to say what I said. Maybe she was right. Maybe I was judging her? Upon reading what was in the Bible, verse 12 seemed to put an end to all of the second-guessing going on in my mind; that scripture verse says,
“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the scriptures say, ‘You must remove the evil person from among you.”
That was exactly what I needed to hear! I took that scripture to heart, and it made me certain that I did the right thing. Paul says that I have no right to judge people on the street, but people who proclaim to be Christians are a different story. So this supposed “friend” of mine arranged a meeting with the elders of the church. She was certain that I overstepped boundaries. She was convinced that I was in the wrong, and wanted vindication.
So we both showed up at what looked like the church’s version of “People’s Court.” She told her side of the argument, but I was on God’s side. The Word of God was applied to the situation, and the elders pointed out that I was following scripture. But she refused to even acknowledge that her actions were in opposition to what God says in His Word. Ultimately, the Word prevailed. It always does! I was exonerated. She stormed out of the building. I don’t see her anymore at church. I truly wanted to be her friend. Through this experience, I’ve learned that speaking the truth in love isn’t always easy or convenient, but it’s necessary if we want to be followers of Christ.