The CO2 of Holiness - Part 2
Some local congregations have at least one person who is giving off CO2 that, if left “untreated” can become cancerous to the mission of that local church. Before we get to part 3 of this series, what conflict do we find in the New Testament Church that can help shape our understanding?
For our consideration I am going to look at confrontations / conflict that Jesus had and then that Paul had. Both of these will give us a good foundation on which to proceed.
Jesus was pretty pointed in his approach to the religious who were hinderances to the mission. He called those folks “white-washed tombs,” among other things. When speaking to others who had not yet embraced his kingdom, Jesus patiently and graciously invited them in with great impact. Some that Jesus talked to walked away with no record of them ever returning. Some rejoiced and followed Jesus. In one confrontation, he even told Peter, “Get behind me Satan.”
Lesson: When Jesus encountered that which stood against His Kingdom, He acted. The point is that we should not act when people stand against our agenda as pastors but we must find a redemptive way to act when they stand against His. Gossip, slander, causing division, the appearance of religion that seeks to undermine the church, etc. cannot be allowed to go unchecked in the local church.
Paul was known for being comfortable with calling out division in the local church while also recognizing there are times when people needed to part ways. Paul parted philosophical ways with Peter and there was something of a broken relationship with Barnabas.
Meanwhile, in speaking about Romans 16:17, the New Beacon Bible Commentary states, “the threat from false teachers is less in the erroneous theological content of their message than in their perverse ethical character. Such people are not truly Christians, whatever profession they may make for themselves. Paul does not specifically explain here in what their immorality consists.”
The point, I believe, is that the local church is to have nothing to do with those who stir up division in the local church. Our default should be grace but at some point we must embrace what the Scriptures directs us to do when dealing with those who are harming the witness and mission of the local church.
This painfully brief (this is a blog, not a book or Bible commentary) glance gives us enough biblical evidence that ignoring the toxic CO2 in our congregations is not within the will or plan of God. Remember that we are speaking here of toxic persons, not basic human personality challenges. As such, acting on behalf of the mission of God in the local church is not outside of the call to holiness. There remains a path forward for us to call for unity and also call for a time when it would be better for the local church if people took different paths in order for both parties to advance the gospel.
Next time we will look at the practical application of what this might look like in the local context.