Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gutsy Confrontations, or: A Serious Deficit in our Churches


David said...

While I agree with you in principle, I would caution that it must be done in humility and with care. I've seen confrontation of sin in church, by well meaning brothers/sisters, be done in the wrong way, with destructive results. The purpose should be to attempt to restore, rebuild, and to edify.

Stewart said...

Chris, thank you for this thoughtful, relevant, timely, and helpful commentary and admonition. This IS a huge problem in the modern church.

In my own personal experience, even when I have confronted a brother gently and in love, most of my experiences with the confrontation with sin have not initially been received well. But interestingly, with those who quickly listened and received my admonition open-mindedly, our personal relationship immediately grew in trust, transparency, and fidelity (toward one another) to profound degrees. My closest friendships are virtually all with men who have either confronted me with my sin at one time or another or with men whom I have confronted in such a way (and successfully and willingly so).

This is strong (anecdotal) proof that such loving confrontation is both fruitful and an expression of true love, AND a great vindication of the wisdom of God (as He has given us such care over one another as a moral obligation and expression of true love). Your article has been a good reminder to me and provides much motivation to live with real accountability. I hope it will be helpful for others as well. Thanks.

Chris Krycho said...

David (my dad, in case anyone is curious): yes. PJ and I have emphasized that whenever we've written on confrontation or church discipline. It's worth remember that even the act of removing someone from the church ("excommunication") is intended to bring them to repentance (see both Jesus' comments in Matthew 18 and Paul's comments to the church at Corinth). So we agree both in principle and in practice.

Stewart: I've had the same experience, going back well over a decade now. Midway through high school, my closest friends from growing up and I started making a habit of praying for each other, encouraging each other, and challenging each other. Whether that meant calling each other out for lust or disrespecting our parents or going out with a non-Christian or being prideful or any number of other sins, we didn't hesitate to call each other out. Likewise, when we saw each other walking well, we praised each other. Even now, when we see each other only twice in a year at most, these men remain some of my closest friends and among the people I trust most in the world. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" indeed. I saw the same thing happen immediately in my relationship with the friend who confronted me a few weeks ago.

I saw the same throughout college with the men and women who were willing to deal with me (and I with them) directly and lovingly about sin. Was it fun? Hardly. Was the result worth it in every way? Absolutely.

This kind of anecdotal evidence helps back up teaching from the front – whether the pulpit or in a community group. Hopefully, it will also help us to be receptive when others confront us about our sin, because you're tragically right that most people reject it, not realizing how much they have to gain from humble acceptance of correction. (That goes for me, too: I can easily become defensive instead of recognizing that God is lavishing grace on me by using a brother or sister to keep me from continuing on in my sin.) We grow in holiness, we sin less, and we gain in relationship with each other. What is there to lose? And there is everything to gain.

Pam Crouch said...

Chris, thank you so much for writing this! You are so right: not only do we not confess our sins to each other, we don't wash each other's feet, either. That is a sad state of affairs. This blog post is probably God tugging at my heart to finish a letter I have started to a brother and member of our church. This beloved friend has been in a state of judgment of God (yes, you heard that right he doubts God's goodness) and we have been trying to reason with him for quite some time at home group. Recently, I read this brother's work blog, in which he wrote a very heartfelt post about his life's role model... Steve Jobs(?) Well, that explains a lot, doesn't it? Anyway, I'm not even halfway through this letter, because I feel like I have to be in the right kind of spiritual state (fasting, in the word) so that my words will come from the Lord and not from me. Just pray for me that I can do it with love, and that it will be well-received, because "every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." Matt 3:10 :o(

I would like to suggest that you are correct in your assessment that it is imbibing popular culture and values, but that it's okay to put a name on the ideas that we have accepted. I think one problem is that we have allowed others to tell us what love is. Love is not "tolerance." Tolerance means to put up with things that other people do that we know are wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toleration

But, the Bible says to do just the opposite in Leviticus 19:17-"Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt." But, that is not what people outside the church would like. Thew apparently expect us not to rebuke our neighbor, and *instead* hate them in our hearts, as long as our hate is not expressed in actions.

Jamie, I also agree that people in our culture have very little understanding of what holiness is or that God values it. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Jas 1:27 People in our culture seem to understand holiness only in physical terms, such as the distinction between different types of tools (silverware vs. hardware) or cloths (tissues, diapers, rags, towels, sheets, clothes, curtains.) Why do we not use this item for that purpose? Because we just don't, that's why! That seems to be the only type of object lesson that some people can understand when confronted with Biblical laws about holiness. :o/

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