1 Corinthians 5:9-13
9 I wrote a letter to you to tell you to stay away from people who commit sexual sins. 10 I didn’t mean the people of this world who sin in this way. I didn’t mean those who always want more and more. I didn’t mean those who cheat or who worship statues of gods. In that case you would have to leave this world! 11 But here is what I am writing to you now. You must stay away from anyone who claims to be a believer but does evil things. Stay away from anyone who commits sexual sins. Stay away from anyone who always wants more and more things. Stay away from anyone who worships statues of gods. Stay away from anyone who tells lies about others. Stay away from anyone who gets drunk or who cheats. Don’t even eat with people like these. 12 Is it my business to judge those outside the church? Aren’t you supposed to judge those inside the church? 13 God will judge those outside. Scripture says, “Get rid of that evil person!” (Deuteronomy 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7)
Paul here is dealing with a Corinthian misunderstanding. It would appear the Corinthians were quite adept at creating an us-vs-them club. Paul’s response is – God’s design is certainly not an us-vs-them club. God wants us to be a people who engage with our world – our friends, neighbours, work colleagues, family members – not out of a prideful superiority, but out of a transformed life and holistic humility. But God calls us first to purity of heart – no more saying one thing and doing another. No more double standards – expecting the world to do things better and then living lesser ourselves.
I am challenged by Paul’s decision regarding those who are in the double-standards zone within the church – don’t associate, don’t even eat, with them. I hear echoes of a teaching of Jesus – don’t point out the speck in your neighbours eye when there is a log in your own. Deal with the massively obscuring log in your own eye first.
In an age where Christians are all too often associated with being judgemental, critical, and what they are against, Paul’s charge is deeply instructive – forget about judging the world “out there.” Deal with your own inconsistencies, character flaws, and double standards – rid your life of them. And show the world in ongoing friendly associations what Jesus can really do in a life surrendered to Him.
Lord help me, help us, live this out. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh