21 January 2013

Discipline and the Fragmentation of the Church

paul1Yesterday, I was preaching on 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul seeks to protect the fledgling Corinthian church from the effects of gross sin by one of its members, and to act for the good of that person. Gordon Fee writes the following challenging words concerning church discipline…
Finally, the great problem with such discipline in most Christian communities in the Western world is that one can simply go down the street to another church. Not only does that say something about the fragmented condition of the church at large, but it also says something about those who would quickly welcome one who is under discipline in another community.
Perhaps it should be added that if one were to be so disciplined in our day, too often the person could "take it or leave it" as far as the church is concerned—and that probably says more about the condition of the church itself than about the person who is dissociated. Maybe the most significant thing we can learn from such a text is how far many of us are removed from a view of the church in which the dynamic of the Spirit was so real that exclusion could be a genuinely redemptive action.