This last Sunday I made reference in the sermon to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians that pertain to judging others. I said that our job in the church is to judge ourselves, rather than sitting in judgment on people in the world who do not know Jesus. Here is the text I was referring to:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
This is such a great passage. The context of 1 Corinthians 5 is Paul’s admonishment of the Corinthian church’s arrogance, seen in their refusal to practice biblical discipline in regards to sinful conduct in their church community. The passage above closes out the chapter.
I love how Paul explains to them that his expectation is not that they would disconnect from the world around them. He clarifies that he is not calling them to shun the exact type of people that most Christians are careful to avoid. Instead, he clearly communicates that followers of Jesus must resist the temptation to retreat “out of” the world into enclaves of sterility. Jesus never said that Christians would (or should) “fit in” as a part of the world, but he also prayed that God would leave them in it:
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
Instead of judging those who do not know Christ, Christians are called to judge themselves and one another. The word for this is “accountability.”
We can’t lose this in the church. It can be easy to gloss over our own sin issues as we point the finger at those in our culture who have no knowledge of or relationship with Jesus. That makes absolutely no sense. We are not to called play God; we are called to worship him. God judges those who are outside. Our role in the church is to love them and show them Jesus.