Monday, October 1, 2012

Ray Ortlund Jr. on Fairness in Church Discipline

“In every conflict there is wrong on both sides,” someone says.  In every conflict?  “There’s enough guilt to go around,” someone else says.  Well, I guess that’s that.  Discussion over.

"When a church suffers internal conflict, these glib assertions often pop up to the surface.  But they are not biblical and not helpful.

"Was there wrong on both sides when Cain murdered Abel?  Was there wrong on both sides when Korah opposed Moses, when Saul pursued David, when Ahab and Jezebel accused and murdered Naboth, when the prophets were opposed, when Sanballat plotted against Nehemiah, when Alexander harmed Paul, when all the apostles were mistreated in city after city?  Every one of these people on the receiving end was a sinner.  But does their sin explain, much less justify, what was done to them?  Not according to Scripture.

"A thoughtless slogan, however well intentioned, can create a Kafkaesque environment of injustice.  There is a reason why God said, “Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked” (Exodus 23:7).  God our Judge instructs us that, even among sinners, categories like “false charge,” “innocent and righteous” and “wicked” are still meaningful and important to him — and to us.

"It is up to the elders in every church to slow the momentum of conflict down, get to the bottom of things, find out what is really going on, clear away every false accusation, and render a just judgment, so that their church can get back to positive gospel ministry in green pastures and beside still waters.

"Churches led by their elders into self-restraint and biblical clarity can create — or, if need be, re-create — a non-Kafkaesque environment of humaneness where everyone is safe from hasty misjudgments.  Such a church is where the presence of Jesus dwells."

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