“But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse,” (I Corinth. 1:12-13).
THE Apostle Paul had to descend heavily on a Church he loved so much like the one in Corinth. His tone of speech betrayed his anger. He was not happy with their action or attitude at the Lord’s super. Their awkward behaviour attracted his rebuke. Therefore, being an elder in faith, he was acting out of genuine love and concern, as he rebuked the Church. It was his desire that this particular Church should put their house in order. Notice that he had had complaint from them earlier, (I Corinth 1:11, 5:1). It was not surprising though that he had to caution them the way he did.
However, let it be stated that his rebuke for this Church in Corinth was for its own sake and the growth of Christianity in that part of the world then. In the New Testament, rebuke was usually translated as an epitimao, see Matt 8:26, 16:22 and 17:18. Understandably, when the word rebuke is used, it has to do with expressing sharp disapproval or criticism of someone because of his/her behaviour or actions. Therefore, every attempt should be put in place to return erring person or persons to the paths of moral rectitude. Yes, Apostle Paul was right in employing this method.
Unfortunately, some fathers today can hardly raise their voice in condemnation against erring members of their household be they their wives or children. It is true sometimes they may not assert their spiritual authority possibly because of fear or condonation
His action was in tandem with scriptural demands as a way of righting the wrong. What does the Bible say? In Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” and also in II Tim. 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. No matter how we feel, discipline and correction must go hand-in-hand with love in order to recover one who is on the wrong path.
Unfortunately, some fathers today can hardly raise their voice in condemnation against erring members of their household be they their wives or children. It is true sometimes they may not assert their spiritual authority possibly because of fear or condonation. But you will agree with me that when a father ceases to assert his authority in a home, things go haywire in the house. Yet, whether we like it or not, the scripture gives the man in the home the spiritual authority to exercise for the good of the family. Remember, when a man tramples upon his authority in a home, a woman who is spiritually aglow can step in to save such a home from moral decay. Yes, if a man abdicates his role, the woman may be forced to take over. I hope someone, somewhere, is listening!
What can we then do, particularly as our society is suffering from “sexual pollution” and all manner of evils? With the way things are going in the political, social or religious circle, if nothing is done, we may run into more troubled waters. It is, therefore, suggested that men and women of goodwill; whether in the Church or society should rise up to the occasion. In fact, they should speak out and rebuke where and when necessary in order to right the wrongs in our society. Yes, fear and condonation should be jettisoned, but humbly and prayerfully they are to help return erring members of the Church, family or society to the shelter of the Lord’s house. I think that no time is better than now to do so.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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