Something continues to concern and disturb me in church life today. As soon as we as a church stand up for what the Bible stands for, so often we come across as being judgmental or even legalistic. As soon as we put in place boundaries that are there to protect the church and encourage spiritual growth, automatically people think it’s being legalistic. I am left pondering, how Paul would be received in today’s church? I wonder what letters he would write to our church? Even a more confronting thought is, what Jesus would say? How would it compare to His strong words in Revelations written to some churches?
I have heard people say that boundaries set within a church are lacking in grace, and coming across as legalistic. To say no to how some people choose to live is judgmental and condemning. ‘We are to love everyone’. What does that mean? I think this world has a hard time defining love, let alone the church understanding what biblical love is. In fact love is thrown around so loosely in the church, we are left to devise our own interpretation and apply it. This leads us to accepting compromising ideas on the bible’s stance on sin, leading to infectious decay within the church. All this for that sake of loving one another. That is NOT love!
We are called to be merciful, as God has been merciful to us. But that doesn’t mean accepting sin in our lives and in the lives of others. God wouldn’t have sacrificed His only son if He didn’t hate sin so much. God wants to help us turn from it. So being a loving and merciful church DOES NOT include accepting sin in our lives. If that comes across as being judgmental, then no doubt Paul would be considered judgmental today. His letters are often very confronting… and dare I say it loving.
To be merciful and shower God’s grace on people is to point people to Christ and their need of His redemptive power. We need to teach all aspects of God as taught in the Bible from His hatred and judgment on sin to His grace and mercy in sending a Saviour. We need to put in place boundaries within the church to protect it from being infected by people’s attempt of rationalising clearly sinful and disobedient behaviour. However this is to be done with an attitude of wanting to see people reconciled with God through Christ, always remembering that none of us deserves to be saved. We need to show that same grace to one another whilst upholding what God stands for.