Read 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
12-13 I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house. (THE MESSAGE)
One reason the church is ‘on the nose’ in some circles is that it seems to pass judgements on the conduct of people outside the church. An implied message seems to be that you need to clean up your act if you want to have anything to do with God—and for that matter, anything to do with us. That may not be what church members actually meant, but that can be the message received.
We may spend a lot of time and energy condemning the ills of society whilst much of the time society points the finger at our own ills. So some sort of angry stalemate ensues. We give the impression that we are attack dogs always needing some sort of enemy. With the demise of communism we have to focus on another enemy, perhaps Muslims or gays. Or in other Christian traditions, big business or America.
This is not to say we ought not to speak out and in doing so perhaps incur the opposition and misunderstanding from outside. But amidst all such speaking out, we need to take heed of what Paul says in our passage today. We can’t ultimately judge those outside the church. We can’t control them. We need to focus on cleaning up our own backyard, thus giving our witness more integrity and humility.
It is right to point out the perils of sin wherever and whenever it occurs. But we dare not ignore the sin of judgementalism in our own midst while presuming to pass judgement on the sins of others.