“You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:21-24)
The Confession says, “Persistent and uncorrected false teaching and sinful conduct among Christians undermine the proclamation and credibility of the gospel in the world.“ Consider that this was written in 1995, before (or perhaps during) the time Christianity was perceived as becoming “hard line.” But the Confession as predictive, is not actually pointing to Christianity as a pseudo socio-political group, but as a group of people trying to live out an authentic Christian life. Sins of gluttony, greed, wrath, immorality etc are undesirable, but common fair in most people’s lives. It takes a “real” hard-line “Christian” to express bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and self-righteousness!
The writer of Romans was chastising his audience for committing the sins they were condemning in others. “Modern Christians” have gone beyond this with their prejudice and sanctimony, and condemning those who are guilty of the sins that these Christians have decided for themselves are sins. If God’s name was blasphemed then, I shudder to think what has happened to God’s name now. The saddest thing is that Christianity is supposed to be about compassion, forgiveness, and understanding. Who amongst the average unbeliever would describe some current Christians in that way?
I think, gentle reader, we do not just need discipline IN the church, we need discipline OF the church. Mennonites are not immune to such needs, I am sorry to say. An often refrain in the comments this year has been, “we are no worse, but we are no better.” It brings me close to weeping to consider this fact. Our Anabaptist forebears stood up to their current society and said we will not go along with prevailing sentiments. Currently some Mennonites have been saying, “what the masses believes sounds good to me.” It is to weep.
May you gentle reader search your heart and your understanding of our God, and may you stand firm in your convictions modeling the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness that is offered to us by our Lord. Selah!