“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you,
and of a kind that is not tolerated even among the pagans,
for a man has his father’s wife.” 1 Corinthians 5:1
I think 1st Corinthians 5 is a chapter that probably sounds rather foreign to the ears of most Christians today. It’s not just that it references a scandalous sexual sin. That’s one thing in and of itself! But I’m primarily thinking of the context, expectations, and presuppositions that are involved in God’s response to this situation i.e., excommunication.
Excommunication is not a word we use often. As defined by Mirriam-Webster’s Dictionary, excommunication means:
1: an ecclesiastical censure depriving a person of the rights of church membership
2: exclusion from fellowship in a group or community
Here are some reflection questions I encourage you to consider as you read this chapter. According to God in his Word:
- What does another person’s sin have to do with me or the church?
- What does God’s response presuppose (assume) about the relationship between individual Christians/church members as well as between individual Christians and church leaders?
- What kind of community does God expect the church to be?
- If and where this chapter sounds alien, or even alarming to me: What have I assumed about church, discipleship, and community that might explain my reaction?
- Am I willing to do church (and Christianity) God’s way, or do I think I’m wiser than God?
- What about God’s grace? Where is it in this chapter?
There are two other key aspects of this chapter that are important for us to not overlook. And it’s easy for us to overlook them, as sexual scandals tend to command all of our attention! As you read and reflect on the passage, don’t miss the following:
- What do verses 9-10 tell us about what our relationships with, and attitudes towards, the sinful world we live in should be?
- What does verse 11 tell us about God’s view of sin?
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. May we together be renewed, restored, and lifted up by the grace and mercy of God as he draws us to himself in worship.
Yours in Christ,