Christianity Is Not Just A Claim (1)
BY all standards, the apostle Paul may have sounded harsh to his Corinthian converts, but we cannot take it away from him that he was doing so in love, even if only to recover the lost for the Lord. The preaching of the gospel requires at times that we should be involved in rebuking, correcting and teaching what is true in order to prepare and equip God’s people to do every good work, (2 Tim 3:16-17). If church leaders want the best for their followers, they must not only preach the undiluted word of God, but must always speak the truth in love in their preaching. Good preaching enables a sinner to make the decision to follow Christ by every sense of the word.
Therefore, the church must discipline flagrant sinners among its members. Such sins left unchecked can polarise and paralyse a church. The correction, however, should never be in anger. Instead, it should be given to help bring about a cure. The Corinthian believers had refused to deal with a specific sin in the church. A man was having an affair with his stepmother, the church was ignoring the situation and Paul was emphasising that he had a responsibility to maintain the standard or morality, as found in God’s commandments. God tells us not to judge others, but He also tells us not to flagrantly sin because allowing such sin to go undisciplined would have a dangerous effect on other believers, (1 Corinth. 5:6).
Understandably, Paul admonishes all believers to stay away from the person, who claims to be a Christian, yet, indulges in sins expressly forbidden in the scriptures by rationalising his or her actions. Such a sinner may be an irredeemable sinner. It may be that an armed robber on the highway, nor the prostitute in the hotel nor the hired assassin because at the slightest hearing of the gospel may be broken and repent genuinely, but for that person who is so ‘familiar’ with God and yet rationalises his sinful actions. By rationalising sin, a person harms others for whom Christ died and dims the image of God in himself or herself. A church that includes such a person is hardly fit to be the light of the world. To do so would distract Christ’s picture that it presents to the world. Church leaders must be ready to correct in love for the sake of spiritual unity.
However, this is where the church of today is in trouble. Presently, it is suffering from “the sin of condonation”. That is tacit, or reluctant approval of behaviour considered wrong or offensive. Part of the church’s reluctance and the leaders to a large extent is because of the monetary considerations (Tithes, sowing seed, as a way of supporting God’s work handsomely,) among others. But, should it be so?
For Apostle Paul, there is no room for condonation and that’s why he spoke out: “I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer, yet, indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, worships idols, or abusive, or is a drunkard or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people” (1 Corinth. 3:13).
Sometimes, I feel the church’s testimony is tainted particularly when we see that it resembles the world in every demonstration. Yes, as it often, through its members indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, worships idols or is abusive or is drunkard or cheats people. It is no longer safe sometimes to deal with most persons claiming to be Christians in transactions, as some have ended duping or wrecking other people’s homes by mere claim of being a believer. You need to watch out! For we have many wolves in sheep clothing even in the Church. Yes, Christianity is much more than a claim.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical
Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.