“The truth is, Christians should be horrified by sin wherever we find it. We must never grow accustomed to it or permissive of it to the point that it doesn’t cause us pain in the way that it would Christ. We must never call ourselves Christians and the live exactly like the foulest-mouthed, wildest-living party pagans we brush shoulders with every day. No, we must be different. Like everyone, Christians are sinners and have fallen short. We believe that we’ve been washed and sanctified by the blood of Christ and have a new fresh outlook and freedom from our own depravity. But sin is still a struggle that we deal with every day. For Christians, the topic of sin has got to be on the table and open for discussion. We can’t be shy about it for fear of scaring anyone away. Sin is a harsh reality, and like it or not, it has everything to do with our Christian faith.” – Brett McCracken Hipster Christianity
As a leader of small groups and part of intentional accountability relationships I have had more that a few conversations on how to confront other Christians about the sin. It is clear, in communities of faith, we are called to confront sin in each other and work through repentance to restore a brother or sister should they fall. But how we do the confronting (methodically laid out in the book of Matthew) can make a significant difference.
Andy Naselli has published some thoughts on how to confront a fellow Christian that acts as great reminders. Naselli illustrates his ideas through the lens of a blogger and confronter. In our current culture there is a lot going on in the blog realm and some of that includes right and wrong confronting. So for those of us that have electronic relationships this guide from Naselli is that much more important.
This is not to say bloggers are always right and confronters are always wrong. Far from it. But it is a call for caution. Here’s one simple suggestion on how to confront other people in a way that serves them: preface your confrontation by acknowledging your limitations and then end with a question.
Thus, Mr. Confronter’s conversation may look something like this:
“May I share an observation with you? I may be completely wrong here because I don’t know your heart and because I may not understand the situation sufficiently. But I know my own heart better than anyone else’s, and I’m definitely the worst sinner I know! And if I did what you did in this case, I think that I’d be guilty of pride because . . . . Is my observation here anywhere close to the mark?”
If Mr. Blogger doesn’t think that he is guilty in this particular instance, Mr. Confronter could come back with a fellow church member, friend, or elder. But it may not be wise for Mr. Confronter to turn the screws tighter and increase the intensity. Mr. Blogger may be guilty, and God may use the confrontation to convince him of his sin in due course. But Mr. Blogger may not be guilty! So if Mr. Confronter insensitively and ungraciously persists, he may create false guilt and become guilty of the very pride he is condemning.
You can’t control how all other Christians confront you, but you are responsible for how you confront others. So when you confront others, do it in a way that serves them.
Good advice indeed.
I have been contemplating 1 Peter 2:9-12 in relation to the question from earlier in the week in which I asked how Christians should look different.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
There is so much here but the immediate take-aways for me are (1) we are chosen by God and are now a “people,” (2) we are to abstain from our sinful desires and (3) living in the world, we are to live in a way that Glorifies God through love.
God creates a community of believers and the role of that community (you know, those friends you call Christians) is to encourage each other towards the things of God. In that encouragement we are to war on sin in our lives and help one another in these battles. And we love our neighbors so that despite them thinking we are crazy, they recognize the good we do and when it is all said and done they will glorify God as they recognize his glory.
Swallowing this today and trying to live it well. Join me?