We live in an age of broad-mindedness. We gladly tolerate one another for their various attitude and activities even if we don’t like it. In a modern and progressive society we understand such an approach is necessary for mutual survival and well-being. Intolerance is not an ideal attitude and often it results in sectarianism and conflicts. In pluralistic society definitely we ought to adjust with each other and bear with others who do not take our path.
Nevertheless, can we apply this approach in every area of our life, especially to spiritual life? What does the Bible says about this modern-day liberalism. In the name of tolerance can we just associate with anybody and everything.
Notice few scripture portions:-
Psalm 45:7 “you love righteousness and hate wickedness.”
Psalm 97:10a: “You who love the Lord hate evil.”
1Corinthians 5:11:- “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with a such a person.”
There are many such passages in the Bible that clearly tell us that we cannot associate with evil and those who practice or promote it. If we love justice we ought to hate injustice of any kind, love for the Lord demands hatred for evil.
Disobedient church members!
Generally speaking, we do follow this principle of maintaining separation from the ways of unbelievers, but what about disobedient and rebellious church members? The Lord says in Matthew 18:17, after due course of actions, the one who rebel against the church decision must be kept away. Matthew 18:17. God’s people have been exhorted to withdraw from those who openly challenge the words of Apostle Paul. 2Thesssalonians 3:14. In the 1Cori 5 Paul even rebukes the Corinthian oversight for allowing someone to continue with them even after living in such a sin that even the gentiles are ashamed of. Apostle John also writes similar thing, “…do not receive him in to your house nor greet him; for those who greet him shares in his evil deeds.” 2John vs.9, 10.
However, many times the present tolerant attitude does not allow us to be so firm on such matters. We just allow, or at the least keep quiet. Result, the erring one is emboldened to err more and influence others with such unscriptural, wrong way of life. Remember, the Lord pronounces woe upon those who justify injustice and evil. Isaiah 5:20.cf. Exodus 23:6, 7.
Love & Mercy
Does it mean we should not show any mercy to the fallen ones? What about love and forgiveness even the Lord bestowed on us? These are valid questions. Good to consider it detail.
Then why should Paul, John and even the Lord refer to such withdrawal from erring, rebellious believer? If we should just accommodate anybody and everybody, in spite of their unscriptural and ungodly behaviour, what is the meaning of discipline in the Church? Then what is the example we set before others?
No, doubt we should be merciful and loving. We should sympathize with the ignorant men and women who live in the bondage of Satan. They do not know the seriousness of their evil way. Even when we disagree with them, and dislike their evil deeds we ought to do our best to bring them to the Lord. Paul makes it very clear in 1Cori 5: 10 “I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of the world…” His issue here is discipline in a local church. If someone habitually lives a sinful life he must be disciplined for the sake of purity in the church of God and to set a right example for others.
Discipline for Healthy environment
Further, any disciplinary action is not an end in itself. Once that person is repented, set his / her life correct to the satisfaction of the assembly, he will be received again. Cf. 2Corin 7: 7, 8. The ultimate purpose of any corrective action is the healthy growth of the fallen one as well as the whole congregation.
Sad, due to personal relationship or some other reasons, many publicly or quietly support the disciplined ones. Such lenience to evil and evil practices among God’s people results in an unhealthy environment in the Assembly of God’s people. That will definitely affect the effectiveness and fruitfulness of that local church.