There’s a significant difference between the way the world handles a person’s failure and the way the Church does. Both the motivations and the goals are vastly different! Take, for example, the way a celebrity or public official is presented to the public when they make a mistake. Within moments, layer upon layer of media have processed the content and spun out a story for all the world to see.
News channels are motivated by “breaking news” and they pride themselves on being the source where you “hear it first”. Late night talk shows build their humor on the foundation of a celebrity’s most recent failure. Political cartoonists ridicule public officials by oversimplifying incredibly complex realities. Tabloids are covered with scandalous pictures and scathing headlines in an effort to perk interest and prompt sales.
The lifestyles of the rich and famous become the goods sold to the curious consumer on the street. As soon as something is worth telling, it is told in a way that sells – regardless of the cost to the celebrity.
Reputations are rarely considered. Families are often lost. God rarely – if ever – is glorified.
There’s no wonder public figures hate stepping foot outside of their homes! Fear of the paparazzi and the press catching wind of their less-than-noble life choices are enough to keep anyone behind closed doors!
However, when it comes to sinful failure among Christians, the Church is a very different place.
When empowered by the Spirit to live in a manner that reflects the values of God’s Kingdom, the motivations and goals of addressing sinful failures create very different outcomes. The Church has no agenda to sell in order to gain from someone else’s failure. No! The Church’s intentions are far more glorious!
You see, in the Church, it is incredibly important to preserve a person’s reputation because God’s reputation is on the line! Though much media tends to use information to tear down and diminish a person’s value in the community’s eye, the Church is postured to build a person up and retain their value within the broader community of faith.
That doesn’t mean that we hide our sin so it’s not found out. Rather, we address our sin with one another so that it is dealt with! This is why the first step in addressing a person’s sinful failure is to go to the individual personally and privately – one on one. Unlike the media, this approach is discrete, so as not to create damage. And the goal is always a desire to see the person turn from their sin and be restored to fellowship with God and others. In other words, the ultimate goal is restorative not destructive.
That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad news . . .
Until we make it Home, we will wrestle with sinful failures. In this life, we are still broken. We are still in need of being delivered from our sinful tendencies.
This side of heaven, we are tempted to believe lies and chase after the wrong things to satisfy our longings. Left to ourselves, we still have cravings that are not good for our own spiritual well-being or for those around us.
So . . . it’s necessary to have structures in place to handle these failures. We need protection so we are not lead astray.
Anyone who is wise and protective of their family will ensure there are preventative measures in their home in the event of an emergency. Though no one would ever want their house to catch on fire, it’s imperative to have certain things in place incase there ever is one. The same is true of the Church – our home away from Home.
As we learned last Sunday, God gave us this blueprint of care and protection for one another in His Word. He anticipated, in the event of an emergency, we would need it for the care and protection of our spiritual family. Therefore, because God’s Word says it, we believe it would be wise and protective of us to spell out these preventative measures in our new polity.
Basically, in the event of an emergency, there are three levels of protection within our home away from Home.
There is individual protection for/from church members. (Article XI on page 27)
There is individual protection for/from elders. (Article VII, Section 8 on page 18)
There is corporate protection for/from a team of elders. (Article XII, Section 2 on page 31)
As with a fire in our home, we hope these precautionary measures never have to be exercised and only provide an additional layer of safety for the Church. However, in the event of an emergency, we will be glad these safeties are in place to protect and preserve the flock until we finally make it Home!
– Pastor Nate