Sunday, 12 August 2007

Sinning or living in sin

I was talking recently with family who were relating a story about a music leader living with his girlfriend. The music leader had denied it to the leadership but it had become apparent he was lying. The pastors were made aware of the real situation and discussions were being had about the appropriateness of him leading the church musically. At that time the pastor's wife made the comment that she (herself) is not perfect, with the implication that all are sinners.

I tell this story to illustrate her misunderstanding as I doubt this type of story is unique. While her comment that none are perfect rings of humility and non-judgmentalism, I believe it is a betrays incorrect thinking. A correct understanding of salvation helps avoid this.

As I have previously written, the nature of salvation is not about a set of right beliefs or pronouncement of a creed. A discipleship is a follower. That is, we repent (turn around) and start following Jesus. This is why taking a snapshot of people can make it hard to see who is and who is not a Christian. It is not where we are on the road, it is what direction we are walking in. You can't tell by glancing at the tree, you need to see the fruit, and fruit takes time to develop.

This side of perfection we all sin, so the pastor's wife is correct in this regard. The issue is followers who stumble get up and keep walking (with the help of Christ). It is not the falling that defines us, it is the following. Where pastor's wife goes wrong is she is aligning her faltering with the music leader's turning away. Choosing to deliberately live in a way we know God opposes, with no attempt not live this way, is not the behaviour of one following Christ, it is the behaviour of one refusing to look at him. This is not necessarily apostasy, but it is placing oneself in a dangerous position.
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,/
will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (Proverbs 29:1)
I will add that positions of leadership in the church carry a great responsibility and there may be acts of sin that demand you step down, at least for a time, for the sake of the body. This sin may happen in the context of a person attempting to follow Jesus; this is not what I am addressing here.

4 comments:

  1. If he repents of his sin (i.e. stops living with his girlfriend and having sex with her outside of marriage and confessing and apologizing for his sin - others may stumble because of his example), the congregation might consider having him continue in his position. If he does not, I don't see how he can still hold a position of leadership in the church.

    I believe that's consistent with the Bible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I tend to have trouble with this one.

    What constitutes marriage?
    Does the Bible state what constitutes marriage?
    Does it say to stand before a priest and say some words?

    If they are living together in a committed, monogamous situation is it not marriage?

    Boaz just claimed Ruth publicly and it was done. At least the story says nothing more about ceremony or priests.

    TL.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I tend to have trouble with this one.

    What constitutes marriage?
    Does the Bible state what constitutes marriage?
    Does it say to stand before a priest and say some words?

    If they are living together in a committed, monogamous situation is it not marriage?

    Boaz just claimed Ruth publicly and it was done. At least the story says nothing more about ceremony or priests.

    TL.

    ReplyDelete
  4. TL, your comment kind of misses the point, it is about whether people sin and repent as opposed to choosing to continue in behaviour that they know God disapproves of. If his behaviour is acceptable then I need to choose a different illustration, but the point remains.

    Addressing his behaviour is difficult as I am not party to this, it is second hand. The fact he was lying about the situation suggests that he did not consider her his wife.

    Dealing with what constitutes marriage will take more space, may blog on it.

    ReplyDelete

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