Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love by Association

Recently, I was reading in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, discussing the passage with LEGACYouth, when a coupled things jumped out at me.

When Paul says in v. 11: "I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one"...it can be easy to misinterpret or misapply this passage. 

Paul isn't saying 'wall up' against those who are backsliding or lost. He isn't saying ignore or cut off all ties with those who are struggling in their faith/to live righteously. On the contrary, he is saying don't associate...don't join in with the decisions they're making...with the lies they're buying into. Again, we have to remember to filter our interpretation of Scripture through the lens of Ephesians 6:12, in the sense what we wrestle with is principalities and powers of darkness, not flesh and blood. When we remember the real war is not with man, then we should find greater strength to show compassion for the unbeliever, while speaking the truth in love to those who do believe.

In essence, this is what Paul is getting at.

We can love the person without loving their choices.

In other words, we can love unconditionally without tolerating or associating our lifestyle with those mired in pride or self-centered forms of gratification.



Thus, we can eat a meal with our lost friend without the shame...'cause when we examine the ministry of Christ at large, we find Jesus living this out in full. Time after time, he intentionally went out of his way to pursue the idolater, reviler, drunkard, adulterer and swindler, knowing they needed the light of his love the most. Yet, with his disciples and close followers, who already believed in him and were consistently exposed to his light, Jesus spoke firmly and honestly (i.e. "Oh, you, of little faith", "Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things", etc). In other words, they already had the hope, they just needed the correction. 
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Note how Jesus addresses both crowds in the clip below:


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So whether we're looking to communicate hope (demonstrating love through compassion) or direction (speaking the truth in love), the point is we need to be intentionally loving in the process, without putting ourselves in any compromising situation.

And I believe if we aim to live both of these charges out, we'll be more effective in being like Christ and reaching others in a transformational way.

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