Balancing Tolerance and Judgment
A lot of people throw around 1 Corinthians 5:12 and 13 that states, "For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges..."
What I'd like to briefly focus on within this verse is how do we determine who is truly "within the Church"? Who are "outsiders" and who are really "within" the Church? How does one discern who is within and who is outside? We must be careful not to lump those we disagree with into the role of a "wicked man" solely based on their doctrinal differences. I guess I just don't see this issue as black and white as most. I believe that many times, those who many may often deem as "within" may not be any more-so within than who they refer to as the most sinful "worldly ones". As I often reference, God's criteria is so much different than ours. He sees the inner man – He sees the heart. We too often are swayed by exterior facades – forms of godliness. I believe it is imperative that we seek the counsel of the LORD when attempting to define, on any level, who is "within" and who is "outside". With that being said, many that are within are people that we'll disagree with. What then? How in the world do we fellowship intimately with someone who sees things different than we do? We must be careful that we don't automatically lump people that we disagree with into the "outsider" camp. It is a much deeper issue than this, which leads me to my next point.
There must be a certain level of tolerance in order for the Body of Christ to ever have a chance to learn Who She is and how She is to look.
We all possess certain levels of truth that the LORD has mercifully allowed us to discover and make part of our lives. Also, we all possess a certain level of error. If a gathering of Believers can ever keep this always in mind, it allows all involved in the Body to patiently address what could potentially cause strife and division. All who are part of the Body gathered must exercise this maturity to maintain order. When no one person holds the keys to absolute truth, there is always room for everyone involved and Christ remains the Head of it all. He is rightly given the role of the perfect Teacher. Is this a challenge? You had better believe it! But we must begin to take the lower position and allow the LORD to define Truth. If we gather together, all on the same plain, we can be joined arm in arm – linked together by Christ Himself, the Head of the Body. I've personally been in a gathering that became quite ugly once. Harsh, hurtful words were said and the emotions of some were allowed to get out of hand. I learned volumes that night but what transpired still grieves me when I reflect back on it. It is truly a great challenge to gather together and not allow our flesh to rear its ugly head, but just because it's challenging does not mean it's impossible. We must learn to live as the Body of Christ by the Spirit! Only outside of our own fleshly efforts, agendas and preferences can She flourish!
* Part 6 looks at more biblical issues with doctrines and denominations.