Now on another note... I was thinking about how some say Joel doesn't preach on sin enough and our human nature and how 'bad' we can be and how 'bad' our lives can be when we sin... but here's the thing.....we don't see what Joel does or does not do with his small group and in person - we only see him in the mass media (at least that's true for me). That's a totally different setting.
This got me to thinking about sin and talking to people about sin...I believe that as a christian, if somebody close to us is sinning, it is our place to let them know that we disagree with their behavior. I don't believe it's anybody's right to embarass, or 'call out' somebody in public. I think it's something that needs to be approached on a 1 to 1 basis first. I believe it's my job as a christian to encourage others and set a good example and love them -- never to criticize but to always encourage and focus on what they do good .... yet at the same time, I want them to know I disagree with their sinful behavior and that the BEHAVIOR is wrong/bad but I still love THEM.
And once again, this was all in a book I finished last night. God always does this for me! I am reading the Janette Oke love series right now... and what do you know, the book I was reading and finished last night, had a whole situation exactly like this. I think the characters handled it as a christian should.....here's the excerpt from the book with a lot of conversation cut out... but here's the major part between a pastor and an elder in the community:
Pastor: "it's one of my parishioners", the preacher began. "Rumor has it that he's been seen in town-doing-ah-doing something that he shouldn't be doing...I say 'rumor' because I haven't talked to the individual yet, and a man is innocent until proven guilty. Well this source who told me this, is concerned that others have been seeing it too and that it will reflect on the whole church. If it is happening and if he is doing what he shouldn't be doing - this man's right, Clark. It could reflect on the whole church. It's wrong - and it's against God's commandments - and I'm really not sure what to do about it"
Clark: "What do you want to about it?"
P: "What I want is of no importance here, as I see it. What I want to know, Clark is what does the Lord want?"
C: "First of all, someone, meanin you as preacher, I think, needs to talk to the man and find out if ya can, iffen he's really guilty as charged. Iffen he refuses to give ya the truth, then one needs to inquire further from the source an from others. Iffen one person has seen these.. indescretions, then it's very likely thet others have seen it also."
P: "So I go to see him and hear his story. Now I need to know what to do about it"
C: Well if he admits to his guilt, I don't reckon he can seriously deny the error of his way, though it's true that some have tried"
P: "all right, let's say he does admit his guilt but he has no intention to stop doing what he has been doing. what then? Does our little church discipline its members?"
C: First, I think that we need to understand what discipline is all about and why it is sometimes necessary.
P: It's not easy to discpline a fellow believer, Clark. Who says that I'm so storng that I never fall? I'm not good at setting myself up as judge and jury.
C: And yer not the judge. God's Word is what we judge a man upon. Iffen He says thet it's wrong - then we can't make it right.
P: "But should we bring judgement upon him - or leave it to God to judge?"
C: Iffen ya committed a sin, do ya think that you'd need to be a carin fer it?
P : Certainly. I'd be guilty as such I'd need to straighten the thing out with God and make resitutition if it was necessary.
C: "the Bible teaches thet all the members of the church are of the same body. Iffen anypart of my body sins, my whole being is held responsible. Iffen any part of the churh body sins, we are all responsible to get that thing made right. Iffen we, as the rest of the church, accept it as okay and pass it off, we too are guilty of that sin"
(By the way, this is direct out of the Bible. It's true... Read Ezra 10...Ezra's grief over the people's sin that he didn't even directly commit... can you believe how God brought all these lessons together for me!?)
P: "His sin is my sin if I make no attempt to correct it when I know about it"
c: "Church discipline is done for 2 reasons - to keep the body pure before God and to bring the erring one back to a forgiven and restored relationship with God. Never should it be done for any other purpose. It's not to punish, or to make someone pay, or to whip someone into relucant shape, or show the comunity that we really are holy and pure. God already knows whether we are or not"
P: "To restore them to a right relatioship to God. Then what about sending him from the church?"
C: Iffen he makes the thing right with God, ther'e no need to throw him out. He's still part of the body - forgiven just like you and me's been forgiven"
I thought that was great.... but there are some snags that the devil will try to work into our relationships. Did you know the devil's greatest tool against christians is other christians. He works at our sinful nature and uses us against each other! We have to remember that WE are NOT the judges. We are FRIENDS to this sinful person. An encourager and uplifter to let them know they can get past this sin and that we know their actions are not a direct mirror of their heart. The sin is not who they are... we all make mistakes.
Also, we have to have a trusting, healthy relationship with this person FIRST. If the person doesn't trust you coming to them with a loving, humble heart... it can't work. You have to be able to relate to this person and have a 'good' relationship already. That's probably why the 'source' in this story went through the preacher to get to this public sinner. He didn't have a godo enough relationship with that person to make a difference. Above all else, make it about the Word of God. It's not about what YOU want, what YOU think is right... it's about the Bible.