The church over its history was meant to show and share God’s love and grace as people continue to live out their lives. One reality that we can all relate to is that we have sinned and experienced the sin of others also. The community of faith was and is supposed to show us how to show people grace as we work through sin.
It seems harder in our day and age and in our society to confront sin, part of it is because what is sinful keeps changing both in society and also in our understanding of the Bible. Another aspect that makes it harder to deal with sin is that we don’t know how to respectfully. Too often sin has been dealt with by using the jagged edge of gossip. This neither confronts sin nor does it does it bring God’s grace into the equation, in fact, gossip puts grace farther out of reach. The sad truth is that we also let sin slide because we benefit from sin. In a society that does not show the same loyalty as it used to, where if we are unhappy or challenged or our needs are not being met, we move on, we leave and go somewhere else. Also when it comes to the idea of work, it is almost unheard of for a younger generation to even conceive of working with the same company for their entire working career. And sadly the same is true of relationships, it is more about happiness than commitment. It has become about the quick fixes for the immediate gain rather than working towards a better life that is realized over a lifetime, not just a couple of months or a year.
With all these factors a reality, it becomes harder and harder to confront sin, because we have forgotten what this really means. It is about bringing the life changing love and grace that we see with Jesus, who dealt with broken and sinful people and offered them the hope that there would be change, the reality that they were loved, and the help to be free from their sin, not that their sin would be accepted but that they would be freed to heal and move forward. Jesus over and over again said, “Come and follow me.” He invited people into a relationship with Him where He was the leader, the one that cared for them and the one who helped them to grow and change and to live.
Discipline in the church used to be about this life changing grace being lived out where sin was confronted and people where helped to change their lives and the community was stronger because of it, not just the individual. The grace of Jesus is to benefit the community and the individual, not just one or the other. Another aspect of discipline was to train ourselves to give and receive God’s grace in our own lives to guard us against sin and to bring us out of the pot hole or in some cases canyon of sin. That these would be stops in the journey of life, not becoming life itself. Jesus came to free us from our sin, not to reenforce our belief and life in it. But as I write this I wonder if the biggest problem that our society has with sin and grace is not the disbelief in God or Jesus, or even not wanting to confront sin, but that we as the body of Christ, a community of faith, followers of Jesus, do not believe that God’s grace is as powerful as we say it is and we don’t live it out ourselves because either we don’t understand it or are afraid. Yet God says in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
May the grace of God as written in His word, as lived out through Jesus, and as given by the Holy Spirit live in you and through you, changing you and giving you life to the fullest.