What do you do with someone you believe to be a fox? I am talking about Christians that speak about Jesus and their desire to follow him–Christians that go to church and may even share the gospel with others but who commit glaring evils.
I think about the Christians who owned slaves in the South and thought nothing of having slaves or of mistreating their slaves but who would also try to convert their slaves to Jesus.
I am thinking of supervisors who claim to follow Jesus but badly mistreat their workers. They think nothing of ruling with an iron-fist and of hiding or twisting the truth when it comes to their jobs.
I think of the Christians who (as the story is told in one of Erwin Lutzer’s books, Hitler and the Cross) heard the cattle cars passing behind their church and the desperate screams of Jewish people and others who were being carted off to slaughter, on their way to the death camps. These Christians in the little church would just sing louder when they heard the train whistle and the screams every Sunday morning. They tried to drown out the screams and the cries of their consciences by singing hymns.
I know all of us are a mix of good and evil. Sometimes we, like Peter, function like Satan and compel Jesus to rebuke us with “Get behind me Satan.”
But what do we do when other professing believers commit injustices and salient wrongs –wreaking all sorts of havoc? Yes, we pray. But when do we speak up? When do we take action?
There are believers that are acting like foxes. They may be blind to their behavior or they may be maliciously intentional. I’ve met a few people I’d call foxes while also wondering if they’re brothers and sisters.
At the same time, I must be careful that I myself am not blind to the planks in my own eyes. But what if the plank in their eyes are sticking so far out that every time they turn to the left or the right they take out a bunch of people?
I would love to hear your thoughts. I am truly seeking wisdom in this matter; and I know, our responses may depend on the particularities each situation. But if you have insights, please let me know!
1 thought on “A Christian or Fox or Something In Between?”
I’m reminded of the sons of Issachar, numbered among David’s mighty men, who were described as “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Every organization needs this kind of leadership. They are the ones who see things as they actually are, have a vision for how they ought to be, and know how to get there. Among the 350,000 fighting men David had, there were only 200 sons of Issachar–such leadership is rare.
Couple that with Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” Lastly, Hosea 4:6, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” We need faithful leadership, both to give us a vision and hope for how things ought to be, and to help us know and love God and keep His law.
When we encounter those who profess Christ but consistently practice in blatant opposition to that claim, we need to know what to do and the wisdom to employ it faithfully and in love. The instruction is given in 1 Cor 5:9-13:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—-not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Church discipline can be done well or poorly. Or, as as is common in our day, not done at all. But that ignores the charge of God and hurts the Church. We also have the pattern of how this is to be implemented.
Matthew 18:17, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
We serve a good God. It is He who unites us, and His law that directs us to what is good. We unite as the Church in a culture that is to mirror God’s ways. However, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. We are responsible to love God by teaching what is true and right, and by protecting His Church from error and corruption. We love our neighbor by encouraging them to know and love God, and by holding those who profess Jesus to Jesus’s standard. Always in humility and love, and with hope of correction and restoration.