As Groucho Marx once said: “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have ME as a member!”
Church belonging is another matter. Church takes all kinds. And only later does the church deal with matters of misbehavior or interpersonal conflict. “Drinking problem? Come on! God accepts you!” Struggling with lust and pride?
Come on in! God loves you!” “Battling old wounds from someone in your family? Come on in, God will help you!”
As Steve Brown (amongst others) said, “God accepts you just the way you are; but God doesn’t leave you just the way you are!” So, what happens with the congregation when there are “issues?” What about misbehavior that affects some if not all? Discipline is one way as is counseling another way. Resolution and reconciliation are the goals. Does that sometimes require “shunning” or “excommunication?” What exactly do these words mean?
The United Methodist Discipline is quite specific on the disciplining of its clergy and uses counseling and even trials for remedial courses of action or even removal of clergy if deemed necessary. This is not spelled out quite as clearly for laity, members of a local congregation. Some guidelines but not as many.
Our scriptures for Sunday help show us how Moses, Paul, and Jesus spoke of situations where conflict arose or misbehavior was affecting how people got along and how this reflected upon their relationship with “God and neighbor.”
All in all, pretty good scriptures to read, study, and apply (if need be) as we head toward coming back together after Summer and Holidays and…well…being absent from the fellowship…for whatever reason! We are all in this together. Let God show us how to keep on “keeping on” when the way gets rough together!
God bless! See you Sunday!