Scripture Reading — Acts 5:1-11
Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. Acts 5:11 —
People often cringe at the idea of church discipline. It sounds harsh.
Sometimes church discipline has used sledgehammer blows to demolish the lives of innocent people. But just as often the church wilts under attack. Leaders often refuse to remove a person who is leaking poison into the church. In the first century the church in Corinth was proud of their tolerance of sexual taboos. The apostle Paul chastised them by saying such tolerance was spiritually deadly to them and their church. In the 1500s the Reformers described three characteristics of every healthy church--one was church discipline. We cannot allow hypocrisy or any sort of poison that sabotages life in Jesus to run unchecked.
Sometimes people mock the church for imposing standards. But the local Rotary Club tosses people out for missing three meetings. Private clubs disallow people who do not pay their dues or dress appropriately.
Similarly, violations of God's law of love can weaken a healthy church. Church health depends on discipline.
The church is not a group of good people trying to do good in the world. The church is a group of forgiven sinners who are dying to their own selfish motives and depending on Jesus. That should free us from phoniness and keep our churches--new or old--alive.
Father, give the leaders of our congregation the right mix of grace and truth. Give them wisdom and courage as they carry out discipline in the name of Jesus. Amen.