Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Care in the Community

Reading in 2 Corinthians this morning I was arrested by the statement of Paul concerning his motivation in initiating the disciplinary action that we first meet in 1 Corinthians. Briefly, someone in the church there had begun a relationship with his step-mother. Paul is horrified and even more so that the church at Corinth had taken no action in the matter. If our presumed scenario is correct, it seems that the church in Corinth quickly moved to implement Paul's counsel. It may be that there is a missing letter between our 1 Corinthians and our 2 Corinthians but that will not alter what follows.

Paul writes Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you. 2Cor 7:12 NKJV

The passage shows Paul's motivation in taking the initiative. It was not primarily as a punitive act against the immoral behaviour of one, nor an act to support the infringed rights of the other. In one sense it was not even a simple acting in responsibly towards a community for which he felt a responsibility. According to what we read here it was specifically to 'show that he cared', and he adds the words 'in the sight of God'. He was conscious of God's eye upon him as he took the first steps and as he makes this claim. Earlier he had testified that his earlier letter had been written through a haze of tears. (2Cor 2:4) It brought to mind an old Graham Kendrick line.."where are the love tears that earned the right to speak". Do we have any right to initiate public disciplinary action without the tears?

Any public discipline must surely begin here, not with any sense of vengeance or even the righting of wrongs but with a tearful endeavour to demonstrate genuine care for the community. There are times when public discipline is necessary and the New Testament has examples of some of these but whenever such public action is necessary it is vital to ensure that our motivation is a genuine demonstration of our care for the community and is not triggered by any crusading intention.

1 comment:

darekkilan said...

Sure. Thought matter. Even with tears. And even that peoples can misunderstand you.