What's our part?

Everyone has heard that there is sexual immorality among you.  This is a type of immorality that isn’t even heard of among the Gentiles - a man is having sex with his father’s wife!  And you’re proud of yourselves instead of being so upset that the one who did this thing is expelled from your community.  1 Corinthians 5:1-2

 

After much rumination and no small amount of people whipping out their seminary teachings, we finally got around to this:  and you’re proud of yourselves instead of being so upset that the one who did this thing is expelled from your community.

 

Here’s what we noticed:

  1. Paul was presuming that the sexual immorality was bad, but he was finding problems in places other than this guy’s bedroom.
  2. Paul is pointing out an attitude problem of those who weren't being appropriately discerning about protecting the community.  They were proud of themselves for keeping someone in the community who was putting the community at risk.  Yes, it's good to seek restoration wherever possible, but we also must be discerning about the well-being of the entire group.  
  3. Paul was inviting the Corinthian church (and we could invite the same of ourselves) to pause and contemplate. 

Here are some things we might contemplate when considering banishment:

  1. Are we more worried about our reputation or the restoration of one who needs restoring?
  2. Is our discussion centered around our core values?  Or are we driven by a fear to protect something - our ministry success?  What’s our motivation driving our thinking on this subject?
  3. What core values are we in danger of violating as we wrestle through this problem if we aren’t careful?
  4. How do we sort through and resolve our competing core values?  Which of our many core values are pertinent in this particular situation?
  5. What wounds/blind spots/prides/prejudices are in play in this room that need acknowledgement?

 

There were more noticings and contemplations, but this provides a general framework for the discussion.  These questions became so intriguing, so challenging, so engaging, that even the Senior Pastor tucked away his ipad and leaned forward into the discussion.  Here’s a wild and crazy idea I want to posit for your pondering:  It is possible, when we sidestep shame, to get very invigorated by the prospect of leaning into change and inviting God to transform us.  It’s exciting!  It’s in keeping with the humanity within us that bears the very image of God.  I’d invite you to consider that shame may be hindering your own enthusiasm for your own work of recovery. 

Sneaky, Sneaky Shame

Everyone is quick to point out how much they hate being shamed but it rarely provides an automatic insight to help us not act as shamers.  Shame is sneaky and shows up sporting a bunch of different looks.  It can be kind of punky, aggressive and direct - attacks on others’ looks, character, ethnicity, etc.  It can hide out in silence - when we fail to speak up against wrongdoing.  It can really go stealth and try to mask itself as righteousness.  It can go underground and manifest as a critical voice in our heads.  It can develop strength and stamina for running and keep us from living our one wild and wonderful life.  Shame has mad skills of disguise.

 

When the group met to discuss the problem with their recovery ministry shame was in play big time.  The Senior Pastor looked serious and stern, but he was playing a game on his iPad.  The Care Minister was extremely emotional, crying and sobbing when discussion arose about staff termination.  The Missions Minister muttered that there was too much estrogen on display for the team to get much accomplished.  And the content of the discussion?  Wowser.  Brutal.  All of it.  Every stitch of it was completely unproductive.  Eventually people wore out or grew so frustrated that an uneasy silence emerged.  Soon folks were stirring as if waking from a nap; catching sight of me and our team the Senior Pastor suggested without much enthusiasm, “I guess maybe you should offer a couple suggestions for us to consider.”

 

“Glad to.”  I said.  And I asked them to turn in their bibles to this:  Everyone has heard that there is sexual immorality among you.  This is a type of immorality that isn’t even heard of among the Gentiles - a man is having sex with his father’s wife!  And you’re proud of yourselves instead of being so upset that the one who did this thing is expelled from your community.  1 Corinthians 5:1-2

 

Tomorrow I will continue the discussion on shame, but today do me a favor.  Read these verses as if you’ve never seen them before and see what you notice.