Let’s not beat around the bush. When you first read about Matt Chandler, was your heart broken, or did you want to know the details much like you would when someone just shares the latest gossip? Sin and moral failures are nothing new to the church. One day in Paradise we will not have to deal with this, but in the present world, we do. Anytime a scandal or something as large as a mega church pastor falling from grace happens, there are two very different roads the church world can take. One is to pull out our step stool and climb on our high horse while shining our halo. “At least I’m not like this man.” We feel somewhat better about ourselves, our shortcomings, and our own struggles. Or we can be biblical and take our job as the church seriously. Taking our job as the church seriously, involves active, biblical love. Let’s talk about what that should look like.
One of the things I appreciate about Village Church and how they handled the Matt Chandler situation was that it appeared to be done quickly. I don’t claim to know everything about this particular event, so if it had gone on for a while and they were slow about addressing this, that is beside the point. Sin issues should be handled quickly. When I say quickly, I mean that they should not be ignored or procrastinated. The health of the whole church and those particularly involved. The Gospel of Mark is characterized for being short, succinct, and has a sense of urgency about it. Forty-seven times he uses the word “immediately.”
Based On Scripture
Anytime you make an objective claim about the way something ought to be, you might hear, “Based on what?” That’s a legitimate question. Why is that the way it ought to be? In a day and age that is hanging on to truth by a thread, this is a question that must be answered. For the Christian, any claim we make, any truth standard that we hold should be based solely on the word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” It’s God’s word’s breathed out to us, given for our instruction. Which means we read it, study it, and put it into practice.
Not to mention that the New Testament writers themselves affirmed that the words they wrote in scripture were not just from them. They were from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Done Gently In Love
Church discipline is not a fun and sought after experience. It is difficult, sometimes painful, and oftentimes messy. But it is most certainly necessary for the health of the church and all parties involved. But how do we approach it Biblically? Matthew 18:15-17 is usually the go to passages. In summary, a person approaches the person living in sin and addresses sin. If the sinner does not respond positively in repentance, then you go back with one or two others for the same purpose. If that does nothing then it is brought before the whole church. And if there is still no repentance, then asking them to separate from fellowship is the next step. Scripture is consistent about this.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Seems extreme, but it’s essential for health, spiritual growth, and repentance. Brushing things under the rug is not a loving thing. In fact, it’s a purely selfish thing that the rest of church can do. How? Because when we overlook and ignore someone’s sin, we are only saving our uncomfortable feelings and comfort zones, so that we don’t have to actively love someone.
Not only should it be handled swiftly and without compromise. It is to be done with the right attitude.
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
Maybe we have the truth part down. Maybe there is no issue with dropping the hammer on calling out sin. But is there love? Are we doing it gently? Does that matter? Absolutely!
Goal Of Restoration
Why should we do any of this? Well, because God said. So, obedience, right? Of course. But have you ever thought about the goal of why you do this for another person? What did you think when you first read about Matt Chandler? What about the many pastors, church leaders, worship leaders, and Christians throughout the years who have fallen into sin? This is worth searching in each of our hearts. If you see any hint of joy or happiness, you found something you need to repent of. If you were quick to want to share the newfound info as the latest church gossip, then you have something to work on.
So why do we follow through with this and go through painful times and uncomfortable conversations with each other in the church? Because we love each other. Because we love each other so much that we want each other’s spiritual lives to be strong and close to Jesus.
As the world watches stories from time to time of pastors and church members falling into sin, what should the world see? They should see us act quickly, Biblically, with love and gentleness, knowing there is a positive goal in mind: repentance and reconciliation.
John 13:34-35 sums it up best. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”