Tag Archives: Religion

Churches: In the World, Not of It

I am afraid that there are churches that are losing their way, capitulating to the culture’s mores in order to be relevant or gain numbers. This is not a new thing. There has always been this danger. The Apostle Paul specifically deals with this in his letter to the Corinthian church.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.

I Corinthians 5:6-7a ESV

The King James Version uses the word glorying for boasting. The Apostle appears to be appalled that this church allowed a member who had sexual relations with his father’s wife to remain in the church, and they went on as if nothing was going on. Apparently, it was known, which is why he wonders why they are not mourning over this sin in their midst. Why have they not exercised the church’s discipline process that Jesus describes in Matthew 18:15-18?

The Apostle lets them know that their failure to do so results in this sin permeating throughout the church because of lack of consequences, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. The church has a charge to deal with it, not going along with it. Their silence represents complicity, or condoning, and a total disregard to what the word says to the church.

Would we rather be okay with the world than the God who oversees all?

The church’s reputation is at stake! We are called to be salt and light, says Jesus, the head of the church. If our salt has lost its influence on the world’s culture, we are good for nothing! The church is called to be light in this dark world. The Apostle goes on to tell the Corinthian church that they are in the world but should not be of the world.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–10 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. 11 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. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

I Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV

Does this require judging? The Apostle Paul says that it does in verse 12. This scripture passage is a hard one. In some churches, church discipline is not widely practiced. Could this be why it appears we are losing our influence on the world’s culture?

Yes we are called to love all people, but in the church we demonstrate that love when we see a brother or sister overtaken in a fault, we bring it to their attention. We remind them of who they are in Christ in the spirit of meekness and reconciliation.

I said earlier that capitulating to the culture’s mores is not new. God has always been concerned that Israel, who was called to be a light to the nations, would not adopt and/or assimilate to the culture around them while they were in Babylonian captivity. The Israelites were exiles, and God called Ezekiel to be God’s voice of warning to them.

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 19 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

Ezekiel 3:17-19 ESV

I don’t see how we get around what the word of God says; if in fact, the word is our guide to how we live and how our churches should operate.

It’s my prayer that we do not give in to the culture’s many pressures. Yes, we are to be winsome, and loving, salt and light. However, as stated in the Ezekiel passage, we win others by speaking the truth of God’s word, in rescuing them, we rescue ourselves.

I asked our Sunday School class, if the Apostle Paul were to write a letter to our churches, what concerns would he raise? What about your church?