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3/03/2006

GO PICKET YOURSELF

"Fornicators go to hell!," he spits through his bullhorn at passing porn stars and porn lovers. "Get away from me, Pig!," he taunts a man stepping forward to ask a question.

The crowd versus the bullhorn man outside the Adult Video Expo in LA. His sign with it's marker drawn flames and block letter warning about hell and referencing Revelation 21:8 doesn't cause a single porn star to trade her Vivid contract and submission helmet for a membership in his church and an outfit from Talbot's. His red faced display doesn't shut down the erotica industry, doesn't bring a single person to pray, doesn't seem to change anything in Las Vegas.

And Paul wrote a letter to the church he started in the LA-ish city of Corinth two thousand years ago that might explain why. The Corinthians were mixed up. They felt superior to the people who weren't in their church - better than people who didn't know about this "Jesus" they worshipped or who had disregarded him as a Jewish myth. So the religious Corinthians separated themselves sometimes from these unbelieving people. They judged them as unlovable.

But inside their church the Corinthians twisted love into tolerance. There was a man, for instance, who had joined the Corinthian church, had stated publicly he believed in Jesus and renounced evil, and then started sleeping with his non-Christian stepmother. This was considered wrong by Jewish and Greek teaching alike, but the Christians in the Corinthian church thought that loving this man meant ignoring his Oedipal disfunction. They were proud even at how having someone so messed up in their church proved how loving they were.

Paul told them to put down their bullhorns and judge the church community they claimed to love so well. Church, judge yourselves, because you, unlike the people at the Corinthian porn convention, claim to know better and be able to live better because you know Jesus.

"I have written you in my letter," Paul reminded, "not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world (people outside the church who don't claim to follow Jesus) who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world (you'd have to find a new planet). But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother (a Christian) but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

In the first century a church was a community and not a place. And you joined not by signing a three by five card on Sunday morning but by being taught for two years or more and then confessing publicly your understanding of the Christian faith, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles and by swearing three times before the bishop and the entire church that you renounced evil. Membership was and should still be a contract of sorts. And it was and is necessary. Becoming a church member gave permission to the rest of the church to expect obedience and service from you. It was an agreement to be held to a higher standard than those outside the church community because by "aiming for perfection" together we make invisible God's character and priorities visible - we become the irrefutable proof, the ikon of God.

But even inside the church where love should correct the bullhorn isn't needed; public correction is never called for. Instead of a scream or a demonstration we have conversation and private confrontation doused in love and humility. And we leave ultimate discipline, if it's even needed, to our bishop.

This doesn't happen much in church does it? - I mean the private confrontation of habitual wrong doing in one another's lives. We'll talk about what we know so-and-so is doing behind their back - as a prayer request maybe - but we don't seem to know that we're charged with the task of talking to so-and-so kindly and compassionately about their bad habit for the purpose of purifying the community that represents Christ and for the purpose of freeing that person from hypocrisy as well. We think talking to each other about sin seems harsh I guess. And sure is without love. But done correctly and discretely it's what we Christians signed up for. It's our duty - to rid the house of yeast.

And when we're clean we're powerful proof louder and more convincing than any bullhorn or sign. And we're ready and willing to live next door to porn stars.

(A SUMMARY OF THIS WEEK'S MESSAGE LAST TUESDAY AT IKON)

10 Comments:

Blogger introriff said...

I tend to pray more for the protestors to see some light whenever I hear or see the "hate in the name of God" protests that have been occurring and making headlines lately.

My momma used to say: "the only thing sadder than a Christian acting lost, is someone lost acting like a Christian".

3/03/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Excellent post Shaun. I do not understand why some people think that by ranting and raving about the sins being committed by the lost, is doing anything to reveal the love of Christ to them. Why is it that we forget the fact that Jesus was the one eating with the tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.? I don't remember Him casting stones as it where, but rather literally loving people into His Kingom. He didn't overlook their sin, He just chose to get to know these people, show them love, and then bring them to a place where they recognized what they were doing was wrong and then told them how they could change.

I only wish I practiced more of the authentic Christian way of reaching the lost, than the "avoidance" I usually practice.

Beth

3/03/2006  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Yes, we do know that Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. That fact has been well-documented and oft-touted by the Modern Church.

Jesus also did things such as telling people to "go and sin no more." He loved people for who they were, but died for who He wants them to be.

I'm not saying that it's fine to be judgmental. Jesus also stated plainly that it isn't. But I do think that in our rush to not be judgmental we often let down the members of our churches who have forgotten the "...and sin no more" part of Jesus.

3/04/2006  
Anonymous carolyn long said...

mycropht, I think the point of the blog was in the "go and sin no more". You are so right in saying Jesus called to change, but He never went up to an "outsider", without introduction and loving relationship and said, "Sin no more!". He saved that for the "insiders". The only time he got angry and let others have it was when he was dealing with those who should know better, those who were to be leading the Way. This blog is so from the heart of Christ. I wonder how grieved He becomes when in His name we run to condemn before we think to love. I don't think the call is to stop ministering to those lost in the porn industry. I just wonder if there are any out there who are strong enough in faith, walk and love to do it as Christ did. He looked on them with love (not lust) and showed them a better way and a better love. He let them know they were deserving of a life more abundant. Once He knew their heart had grasped who He was, once He sensed their "aha", then, and only then, did He say, "Go, from now on and sin no more." Oh, to learn to walk in those footsteps.

3/04/2006  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

We all have areas of ministry to which we are called. Mine is not the porn industry, but (in part) to Christians who have been sidetracked and derailed by pornography.

I often hear Christian friends, family members and spouses use the "but Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes" phrase as a bromide to excuse the blind eye they turn to their brothers' real problem.

I'm echoing the part of Shaun's blog that says:

I mean the private confrontation of habitual wrong doing in one another's lives. We'll talk about what we know so-and-so is doing behind their back - as a prayer request maybe - but we don't seem to know that we're charged with the task of talking to so-and-so kindly and compassionately about their bad habit for the purpose of purifying the community that represents Christ and for the purpose of freeing that person from hypocrisy as well. We think talking to each other about sin seems harsh I guess.

I'm personally grieved by the number of people within the church whose real and agonising struggle with sin is overlooked by their brethren. God's love is very real, but so is sin.

Believe me, I'm not advocating placards and yelling with the lost. My entire ministry would be ruined if that's how I went about it. But I am encouraging fellow believers to speak with love to their brethren about the sin that pulls them from the Body.

3/04/2006  
Blogger Bill said...

Shaun,

How do you reconcile your statement "But even inside the church where love should correct the bullhorn isn't needed; public correction is never called for." with Matthew 18:17, "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."?

How can the church obey God's command to "...REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES." (1 Corinthians 5:13) without public confrontation?

3/04/2006  
Anonymous tunz4jesus said...

Shaun,
We also have a sin exposer in our part of the country. Fred Phelps lives about an hour away from me and I love the way God has used his strong, though definately misguided, avenues of picketing funerals, public speaking events and political rallies to give us the opportunity to minister to those he offends. People are hurt and angry as the result of this "ministers" protests. But they are also very willing to talk about what is wrong and are then open to the love and acceptance they see in us as a contrast to Mr. Phelps. I come from a homosexual background, yet do not believe I would have near the effectiveness without this misguided man to pave the way. I have a great appreciation for triple x church and their mission, thanks for sharing.

3/05/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

bill, I see the way this could seem contradictory. Bad communication on my part is to blame - trying to condense an entire 45 minute message into a post was a bad idea perhaps.

I reconcile this contradiction by defining public better than I did in that post. Public meaning on a street corner with a bull horn - out in the public square, in the office or the neighborhood. That's public in my mind.

Expelling people from church, while very very rarely necessary I believe, is done, when it is necessary, in the private world of the church, and before only church members - not visitors or "seekers" so to speak. It is a family affair kept within the family. I don't correct my kids "publicly" - to draw another parallel - I take them aside where no one else but family will hear and I correct them there - privately.

Does that more sense?

SG

3/05/2006  
Blogger Bill said...

Yes, thanks for the clarification. I agree completely

3/06/2006  
Blogger DissonanceIsBliss said...

"I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it." -- Mitch Hedberg

3/07/2006  

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