Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Made You Right?

How about a word of caution from the apostle Paul that probably applies across the board to people in all sorts of churches — yes, even where the Bible is supreme.

Here is what he wrote under the moving of the Holy Spirit:
"Every charge must be substantiated by the mouth of two or three witnesses" (2 Corinthians 13:13).

Now, if that word were heeded in the church, there would be far greater peace.

There is nothing esoteric, confusing or difficult about this verse. There is no context to define it — except for the fact that the Corinthians were always at each other's throats about something or other.

It means what it says: don’t bring a charge against anyone without being able to substantiate it. The 2 or 3 witness clause refers back to the Old Testament rule for witnesses (Dt. 17:6; 19:15).

There are too many today, even those in authority, who seem to think it is legitimate (if they think about it at all) to talk negatively about others with impunity. Not so. It matters not your position nor title, it is a serious matter before the Lord. If there is something to be said about others, especially pastors, or about a member of the congregation, then do so formally (as this verse directs) or keep quiet! (I almost wrote “shut up”). File formal charges, or leave it alone. And, if formal charges are filed, the charges must be absolutely proven, or the accuser should be charged no matter their position or title.

The world is watching closely while the church mistreats one another. No wonder they want to have no part of it. Church members are talking about one another, or about the pastor, accusations are made, loose talk goes on, and slander is framed as prayer requests. Even denominational leadership can fall into the judgemental trap of imposing discipline based on talk or hearsay. How many times has a pastor been moved or not used at all based on rumors?

Perhaps a good rule would be to impose the same discipline on the accuser as would have been imposed on the accused if the accusation cannot be proven by two or three witnesses. Even a bishop is not right just because he is a bishop. If errors are made, they must be made on the side of grace.

Uncharitable talk is rife in the church — I mean genuine believers. Indeed, whenever you hear it, you ought not to become a trash can to receive it. Squelch it by reciting this verse!

No comments: