The pendulum is swinging, and that is a good thing. However, we must make sure it stops at the bottom rather than simply swinging to the other side. The Church has long been known for its politics. Even recently, there was an article about a pastor casting out members from his church for not voting for George W. Bush. It is not just the right; it is the religious right.
When politics are mixed with religion, disastrous things happen, as illustrated by all of Church history (i.e. the Crusades, persecution of the early Church). And the modern Church has also offered a poor representation of the Gospel when we are too busy sending a petition, picketing or yelling on Fox News about what politics God would side with. Because of this, it is refreshing to see our generation emphasizing love. It is good to serve, offer mercy and quit pointing the finger. We need to become more compassionate, more accepting and less divisive if we are to embody truth in our culture today.
But as the pendulum is swinging back toward the Church being an entity of peace and love to the world, we need to be cautious about bringing that same attitude toward those who are already following Christ. This is where we need to stop the pendulum from swinging too far.
Paul writes to believers in 1 Corinthians that we are not to judge those on the outside, defined as those who do not believe in Christ. However, for those who do, there is a completely different set of rules. Paul goes on to state here and throughout his writings that we are to consistently be accountable to one another, to judge each other and to maintain truth in all things. We are called to be pure and to hold one another to that standard of purity.
But today, we are a bit gun-shy in calling each other out. We love buzzwords like “community,” but shy away from “accountability.” When a person outside the Church is dealing with a particular wrongdoing, we call them a sinner. But those inside the church are known to just struggle with the same sin.
We need to call things like we see them. For those of us who are followers of Christ, we need to stand for truth in each other’s lives enough to point it out. While we always need to speak the truth in love, we need to be willing to speak it in the first place. All of this is not so that we can be upheld to some moral code that will save us. There is no law anymore, so dictating what right behavior is needs to be done carefully. We cannot make things biblical if Scripture does not speak on it. So I am speaking only of those things that are clearly and biblically wrong.
The reason for all of this is not so that we can feel good about our morality or have a code of laws where we can check off our good and proper behavior. The reason Paul writes that we are free to judge each other as believers is that Christ is coming back for His bride, and He wants her spotless. And our witness to the world is lost when the bride is adulterated.
So let the pendulum swing—it definitely needs to. But someone help stop it on the way back down.
[Matt Conner is a church planter in Indianapolis and an editor at Infuze magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].]