Sermons

Summary: All behaviours are not acceptable in the Church.

Get Rid of the Leaven!

March 17, 2001

The Globe and Mail has been running some rather controversial and attention grabbing advertisements of late. In one that I hear on the radio, the idea is that a CEO is promoting someone to a vice-presidency, I believe, and states: “Jones is over 6 feet tall, has all sorts of great virtues, always keeps his friends close and enemies closer, and knows all the company secrets. I’ll be watching you, buddy.” And the line then is, “The truth is not always this clear. Read the Globe and Mail to get up-to-date information.

I’ve seen their similar ads on television a couple of times and they’re equally attention grabbing. The ads show a number of shots of people’s heads and they’re making straightforward statements. “I believe abortion should be illegal.” “Capital punishment should be brought back.” And other similar statements are made. Again, the line is, “The truth is not always this clear. Read the Globe and Mail.”

What catches me, in the statements on television, in particular, is that the ideas spoken are not generally accepted ideas anymore. In fact, I believe there would be a lot of intolerance toward the ideas that are used to catch attention, which is what the ads are supposed to do. So, I imagine people have done some reading of the Globe in response to the ads. There, they’re meant to get all the true stories that will allow them to make informed decisions about what is right and wrong in any story.

Tolerance is a difficult subject- it was the Corinthian Christians and it is for us, too. What is tolerance? What is too much tolerance? Can Christians be too tolerant? What kind of result comes from being too tolerant? Is it a good result? Or is it a bad result?

Let’s meet the apostle Paul as he worked with the Corinthian Christians on this important subject. The exact situation might not apply to us, but the principles do, and we can take those principles to other areas of our lives, including our church life.

The presenting situation is bizarre, to say the least.

1 Cor. 5. 1, 2- here you have a believer Christian who has entered a sexual relationship with his stepmother, who is, obviously a non-believer or non-Christian. (How do we know or surmise that? Who can tell us?) Wow! People will do incredible things, but this really mucks up a family situation. The idea of sexual relationships with the same person a father is with is really incredible!

Paul wasn’t impressed by their reaction, and he goes on to explain what they should have considered but didn’t. They let their hearts rule their heads on this one. They allowed the idea of their ‘freedom’ to extend much too far!

v. 3, 4, 5- Paul comes across clearly, exercising the leadership that was incumbent upon him. I can guess that he got a lot of criticism about this. I can imagine that a lot of people ‘didn’t agree with Paul.’ I, also, have an idea that this didn’t bother Paul very much.

He, remember, kept pointing back to Him- to God- from whom all identity and absolutes came. He was the one who emphasized the reality that everything we have came from Him. He’s the one who spoke, clearly, of the stewardship responsibility we/they have in all areas of life. He stood very strongly and clearly in matters having to do with God!

Paul is not being precipitous here. He is not spanking someone just to make himself feel good. His intention is clearly disciplinary and remedial and, ultimately, for the man’s spiritual benefit. Paul always was looking out for the well being of the individuals he was working with. The person had to be put outside the fellowship of the church in order to realize how good he had it inside the church.

Now, here’s something that warrants our thinking about. Is our church the kind of place that someone would be sad to not be a part of? It’s important that we be the kind of family where we would actually miss being with one another. I’m not sure we’re at that point right now. However, we have been, and I hear from many sides that we need to be again. I can only say a hearty ‘amen’ to that idea! Obviously, Paul wanted the man to feel cut off and separated so he would make suitable changes in order to be able to come back!

v. 6- by their laxity, the Corinthians betrayed their ignorance of the nature of the Christian life. Is Christian freedom something to be taken for granted? Is it something that allows us to do anything we want to do, under the guise of the forgiveness of God that is freely given? Oh, yes, we CAN sin knowing that we will be forgiven. But is that really what we want to be doing in our lives? I think not! That fails to show the deep love and respect that God is more than worthy of receiving.

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