Paul wrote the following in his first letter to the Corinthians:
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy . . . 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 5:9-12)
Jesus died for you while you were still a sinner. He did not require you to fix your sin before he forgave you. He loved and forgave you first. Then, he worked in your heart to fix your sin. Even still, that isn’t something that happens overnight. It is a continual, life-long process. This is the big thing to remember about the groups we have trouble reaching. We are called to bring them to Christ and share the overwhelming truth of the gospel. Only once they are believers is it our responsibility to teach, instruct, and (when necessary) rebuke.
I struggle with sin every day. I have nothing but empathy for those who are continually deceived by Satan and the world. I know how that feels. I am always second-guessing myself, comparing everything to the bible, all the while struggling with a thousand different interpretations of the same scripture.
We are not told to judge the world. We are tasked with bringing the world to Christ, and then once they’ve made that decision we encourage them and teach them. Sometimes, we gently rebuke each other when we stray. But I emphasize gently and I firmly believe that this kind of accountability can only come from someone in a close, personal relationship with you. Someone who you know loves you unconditionally and only wants the best for you. It cannot come from random church members that you are only on casual speaking terms with. And this applies to every people group in this list.
Some churches choose to water down the gospel to increase membership. This isn’t the answer. I won’t sit here and pretend to have solutions, but addressing a problem is the first step to solving it. So, maybe you can take some of these back to your church and figure out a plan. I know I will continue to work on all my insecurities and discomfort and do the same.
Rachel-Claire Cockrell is a wife, a writer, and a high school English teacher. She is passionate about her students and does her best to exemplify the love of Christ to those kids who may not experience it anywhere else. She and her husband live in Arkansas. Follow her blog at https://rachelclaireunworthy.com/ or on Facebook.
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