I read a lot of blogs and talk to a lot of people about the church. Folks are jazzed about many different things, but one element I see missing from most every conversation is a discussion of holiness.
There is a giant gaping hole in the church!
Some folks are changing their models, others are concerned about who owns the building where the church meets, still others want to see less preaching and more discussion, while many are focused on emerging into a new culture–and still there is a silence about holiness.
As I read through the book of Corinthians, I am struck by how important holiness is to Paul. Here is Paul’s response to the immorality of the Congregation.
1 Cor 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this.
When is the last time your church leadership took this approach to sin among the Family? When is the last time you heard your leaders teach or preach on this issue? (If you are a pastor/Elder, when is the last time you actually dealt directly with this issue of holiness vs. sin?)
Have we become so enamored with serving our communities and doing good deeds that we have forgotten the holiness of the God we serve? Have we put so much emphasis on where the church meets, that we have forgotten why we meet in the first place?
Now I know the complaint of some, “but are we not all sinners? Are we not all broken followers of Jesus? Should we not have more grace?” Paul’s answer was yes and no.
1 Cor 5:9-13 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.
Yes, we must have grace with the world (those outside the Way of Jesus). They should not be held to any standard or expectation of holiness. it is God who will judge them. BUT, for those in the fellowship of Christ, the standard is clear and with those who forsake God and rejoice in their sin, there is only one answer–we must stop living a divided life and start embracing a holistic view of church. We must seek out Wholiness (holiness + wholeness) in the Church!