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Jesus Chastising Leaders|
A Model for Us?
Q. How can we integrate Christ's example of chastising the leaders of his day who were a disappointment to him? (M.M.)
This is an excellent question. Thank you for asking.
Examples of Jesus' Anger
To expand upon this question for our readers, can we show the same kind of anger Jesus demonstrated when he overturned the money tables outside the Temple (Jn. 2:15), called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers," (Matt. 12:34) or told them their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven? (Matt. 12:32).
Can this be integrated in our dealings with offending church leaders?
Church Failure Dealing with Sinning Pastors
There aren't many Scriptures specifically dealing with sinning church leaders. Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees is upon unregenerate Jewish leaders. So it wouldn't really carry forward to dealings with church leaders. Maybe that's why the modern church has always found it difficult to deal with failures in leadership.
But, there are things we should do when faced with potential disciplinary actions:
Matthew 18 Conflict Resolution
The first step is to follow Jesus' procedure for conflict-resolution in the church. This is found in Matthew 18:15-17.
- It involves direct confrontation with an offender in order to point out his or her "offense."
- Then, we are to take along 2 or 3 others with us (like a spouse or other Christians who know the offender) for a second confrontation.
- If that should fail, we must bring it before the church (to the elders and perhaps another pastor).
- Finally, we should treat the offender as a "pagan" or a tax collector if none of the steps were effective. In other words, we should ostracize the offender.
This is probably the best procedure for sins such as malicious gossip, drinking parties, foul language, cheating, lying and so on.
Further Dealings with Sinning Christians
If none of the above has worked for some reason, then we should look at 1 Corinthians 5 and 6.
1. A sinning Christian (or a leader) can be "excommunicated" or forbidden to be a part of the church (1 Cor. 5:2-13). This is part of being "turned over to Satan" (1 Cor. 5:5). It is a serious step. Examples are sinners who engage in pornography, child molestation, rape, spousal abuse, and other serious behaviors.
2. If the sinning Christian repents then elders or other leaders may offer forgiveness and comfort (2 Corinthians 2:5-8). In time, the elders may allow the sinner back into fellowship if he has repented and followed remedial procedures suggested to him.
3. Assuming there is no repentance, the entire church is not to associate with a sinning brother or sister except to warn them of the consequences of their behavior so that they might feel "shame" (2 Thess. 3:14-15). This could apply to those participating in adulterous affairs or to practicing homosexuals, for example.
4. If the sinning brother still continues in sin after two warnings, then the person is to be rejected from fellowship (Titus 3:10). This passage has to do with "false teachers:"
"Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned" (Titus 3:10, NASB).
Examples might be a leader who preaches consistently that Jesus is not God, leaders who neglect to teach about the person and lordship of Christ, or leaders who refuse to preach justification by faith, for example. Note that these all have to do with primary salvation issues.
If you are concerned that Jesus was furious with unjust rulers and that this was inconsistent with His character of love and forgiveness…then remember that Jesus is God! (We are not).
God (Jesus) expects much from those who lead. He holds them responsible for their behaviors. Read Psalm 82:1-8 and notice that God sees unjust rulers and oppressors of the destitute and needy as deserving of death! Furthermore, this applies to both secular and religious rulers.
Also think about how God deals with those who "take His name in vain." This refers to religious leaders who take on authority using the name of God, but who do not represent Him correctly. This includes elders and pastors.
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