Shunning is certainly a biblical subject, there’s no mistaking that. But I’m afraid that too many times, we Christians are not shunning the people we’re supposed to be shunning, and we are shunning people that we’re not supposed to be shunning.
Are There People Whom Christians Should Shun? (Part 1)
Shunning implies pushing somebody away from you and not interacting with that person on the same level that you would if you weren’t shunning them. And of course, there’s different degrees of shunning, and some of the Christian groups that are most well-known for their shunning find themselves somewhere on the spectrum of the extremities that are practiced in the shunning world. As we look at Scripture, we’ll see what really is Biblical shunning.
Let’s start with a very familiar passage of Scripture, Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18. They’re often called the three steps of church discipline. I prefer to describe them in a more positive way and say the three steps of confrontation or the three steps of hopeful restoration and reconciliation, because that is the goal in shunning.
And may I just insert something here that I think is relevant. I’m always surprised when Christians interpret any specific instructions in the New Testament without considering the overall general context of what it takes to please God. We know that the greatest commandment foremost is to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, right? Right.
The second most important commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we interpret any of the specific instructions in the Word of God in such a way that it seemingly contradicts or goes against those two greatest commandments, we can be certain that our interpretation of those specific commandments or commandment is lacking something. We’re missing it somewhere, because everything we do is supposed to be done in love, including shunning.
That means we have the interests of the person whom we are shunning at heart. We’re shunning them because we love them, and we’re hoping for something better for them. We’re hoping that we don’t have to continue to shun them. We’re hoping for restoration and reconciliation, and we’re praying for them and we love them, and right there, it begins to show you that some of the more extreme forms of shunning that are practiced in some quarters of the body of Christ, are indeed extreme, because they lost the love, the motivation of really being concerned about those whom they are shunning with the hope of ultimate reconciliation.
Let’s take a look what Jesus here, Matthew 18, and this is starting in verse 15. It’s just three verses, 15, 16, and 17. “If your brother sins,” so we’re talking about a brother sinning here, right? Right. Somebody in the church. We’re not shunning people who are outside the church. We’re trying to evangelize people who are outside the church, trying to win them to Christ. But if your brother sins, and some of the manuscripts from which we derive our modern Bibles had a variant rendering of this first phrase.
Some of them say, “If your brother sins against you,” implying that this is a personal offense against you, but I think if we look at that within the context of all the scripture, there is good reason to think that this, of course, includes personal offenses, but it can actually go beyond that, because if our brother sins and we see him sin, it’s not desirable. If they’re not aware, then certainly it would warrant a loving confrontation.
But anyway, “Go and show him his fault in private.” That’s very important, and you can see the love being poured on right from the start. It didn’t say, “Run to the Pastor and tell him. Run to the Deacon Board and tell them. Run to your neighbor. Call up the prayer chain and get this person on the prayer chain.” No, no, no. You know what I’m talking about. “Go and show him his fault in private.”
You’re doing it in private because you want the least amount of embarrassment. Love covers sin. It doesn’t, especially in the case of a brother, expose it. Because you don’t know. You don’t know all the circumstances. You don’t know all the motives, and it’s good to go in private.
Well, here’s the good news. “If he listens to you, you have won your brother,” and I will tell you that, nine times out of 10, that’s what happens when you go to them in private. Most times they say, if it’s a personal offense, they’ll say, “Oh, I didn’t even realize it. I’m so sorry. Little bonehead me. Please forgive me for offending you in that way. I didn’t realize.”
Or they might say, “You know, I did know what I was doing, but did you realize that you offended me? And that’s why I reacted the way I did, and it became offensive to you?” Because relationships are complicated, and it takes two people to tango, so this is the point of communication, is to go privately, don’t broadcast it, because you yourself might have some guilt here that needs to be confessed and repented of.
It might be a discovery process. When you go and confront your brother for sinning against you, he or she might say, “Well, dear brother, dear sister, let me tell you my perspective,” and you might have your eyes opened to a blind spot. We just need more of this, don’t we? Gentle, honest, loving confrontation. Ah, why is it so hard?
“If he listens to you,” Jesus said, “you have won your brother.” But if he doesn’t listen to you, so there’s resistance, there’s the breach there, and now the wall’s gone up a little bit higher. Do you give up? Do you then go tell the pastor? Do you then broadcast it? Do you then call the prayer chain? No. “If he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you.”
One or two more, one or two more, so that means there’d be a total of two or three going to him, so “That by the mouth or three witnesses, every fact may be confirmed.” That’s actually quoting from the law of Moses there. Now, we’re running out of time in this Little Lesson, but when you get one or two with you, if they’re smart, they’re going to not just jump into this, dive into this stupidly. They’re going to want to hear both sides of the story and arbitrate if it’s a personal offense.
If it’s not a personal offense and you’re just trying to help your brother see something, it’s altogether different, but if it’s a personal offense that, there’s a breach between you and a brother or sister, well then those one or two that come with you are going to want to hear both sides. You again might have a little self discovery, which would be a beautiful thing, because people can help us see through what we can’t see, our blind spots.
Well boy, time runs so quickly when we have our Little Lessons. We’ll just pick up here on our next Little Lesson, part two of when we should shun other people. Hope to see you next time.
Are There People Whom Christians Should Shun? (Part 2)
If you missed the last lesson, we were talking about biblical shunning. I hope that you can first go back to that one because we’re going to pick up where we left off. All right? We’re right in the middle of Matthew 18 which is a classic scripture that has a part eventually at the end that is definitely an example of shunning. Jesus said, “If your brother sins,” some manuscripts from which our Bibles are translated say if brother sins against you, implying that this is a personal event, you go to him privately. If he listens to you, you’ve won your brother.
But if he doesn’t listen to you, you don’t stop. You don’t give up. You don’t call the pastor. You don’t call the deacon boy. You don’t call the prayer chain. You get one or two with you and they go with you to try to work this thing out if it’s a personal offense. As I closed in our last lesson, I said if they’re smart folks, they’re going to want to listen to both stories before they jump on anybody’s side, right? Because who wants to get on the wrong side. That is why someone said God gave us two ears to hear both sides of every story.
It’s very possible that when you get one or two to come with you, again, working towards reconciliation, motivated by love for the offender, that you may discover that you bear some guilt yourself in this breach in your relationship if that’s what we’re dealing with here. Now, if we’re dealing with just a sin that your brother has committed, there’s other things that regulate going to him. Jesus talked about “why do you look at the spec on your brother’s eye when you’ve got a log in your own eye?” That’s a good motivation to not confront somebody because you have no right to confront them for their sin because you are just as much guilty, if not more guilty yourself.
If you get to acknowledge that, that’s a great thing. But if you have a log in your eye, that generally tends to make you blind in your eye. How you can see the specs? That’s the question. All right? It’s really a condition of our hearts. We’re looking at this from two vantage points, the personal offense vantage point and the general you sinned and what should we do about it. I’m mostly focusing on the personal offense. Jesus said, “If he refuses,” now this is the last verse, Matthew 18:17, “If he refuses to listen to them,” that is you and the one or two that you brought with you, so this person is just boneheaded to the core, “Tell it to the church. Tell it to the church.”
Now then, there is debate as to what Jesus means by tell it to the church because in the Bible the church is used in three different ways, the church universal, which is all over the world and also up in Heaven, and then there is the local regional church, the church in Ephesus, the church in Corinth, the church in Thessalonica, and then there’s the local church and I don’t mean the local church in the region building church, I’m talking about there’s only one other kind of church talked about and that is the house church, the small group church. No matter what kind of church you might be involved in, if you’re involved in a big box church, I don’t think Jesus meant tell this, in this case, to the whole big box church.
I think that what he’s saying there is tell it to the house church, you know, because that’s how people met in the early church for the first few centuries, right? Right. Okay. Again, this would be a confrontation by the whole church. If he refuses to listen even to the church… He didn’t say talk to the pastors, talk to the elders, talk to the leadership. No. Tell it to the whole church. Well, he can’t be talking about the big box church there. You wouldn’t want to get everybody involved in this. You’d have to get the leadership involved then. No. Tell it to the church. This is the small group. This is the house church that you both belong to. Everybody knows you both.
Everybody loves you both and it’s confrontational. The whole church confronts the offender. How do you know about it? Because Jesus said, “If he refuses to listen even to the church.” He didn’t say, “If he refuses to listen to the leadership of the church, the pastor of the church, the elders of the church.” No. If he refuses to listen to the church, the whole church, before whom you brought it up before them. See? Just common sense tells you you’re not bringing this up in front of hundreds of people on a Sunday morning, you know, with the pastor leading the charge. No, no , no.
Again, we could go onto so many other things about the church, but there’s so many things that only fit into the context of a smaller meeting house church when Scripture talks about these things. They don’t make hardly any sense when you put it into the big box. But if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. There’s the shunning. We’re talking about shunning. This is now a form of shunning. Now, how extreme is it? Well, you treat him as a Gentile. Of course, Jesus was talking to all Jews. The Jews and Gentiles didn’t mix so well because the Gentiles were looked at by the Jews as unclean, but certainly not looked at as not deserving of some mercy.
I mean Jesus ministered to some gentiles, ministered to a Syrophoenician woman’s daughter who was demon possessed, ministered to the Centurion, a Roman, his son, right, and then of course, in the ongoing drama of redemption, the Revelation in scripture, Jesus died for all the Gentiles. The church is primarily made up of repentant Gentiles today, right? Right. When Jesus says, “Let him be to you as a Gentile,” I don’t think he’s implying that we despise these people, this wayward brother who refuses to repent. The same is true with “let him be to you as a tax collector.”
Now, granted tax collectors were despised, but the guy who wrote this gospel, we’re reading from Matthew’s gospel here, and Matthew was a former tax collector. Was he not? Yes, he was. Okay. Even tax collectors deserve to be evangelized. I don’t believe that the shunning is to the extremity of we absolutely have nothing to do with this dirty person. You know? We won’t even speak to him, look at him. No. No. We say, “God still loves you. Jesus died for you. You’ve got to repent. We’ll welcome you back with open arms. Every time we see you, we’re trying to either subtly or actively remind you of our love that we have for you and how we want you to repent and that way we can bring you back into fellowship.” Right? Right.
Okay? It’s so, so, so, so important we talk about that in our last lesson. Don’t forget, the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. The people that we shun, we love them. We love them. We love them. We’re trying to get them back. Now, in our next little lesson, we’ll look at an example of a guy whom Paul told the entire church to excommunicate, all right, and look at it in light of what Jesus said here in Matthew 18. Okay? Out of time for now. Thank you so much for joining me. Hope to see you next time. God bless you.
Are There Some People Whom We Should Kick Out of the Church?
For the past two Little Lessons, we’ve been talking about biblical shunning. And it is biblical, and we’ve looked at the one key scripture in Matthew chapter 18, Jesus’ three steps towards confrontation that are ever-increasing, one person, then two or three people. And then the whole church, that is the whole house church, the whole small group within the big box church, whatever you want to call it, and then the ultimate thing is if you can’t get this guy to repent, then let him to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector, so there’s obviously shunning going on there.
But I said, that’s not the only verse in the Bible, right, there’s other verses that have some bearing on the whole concept of shunning, and that is, we are to do everything we do in love. We are to our love our neighbor as ourself. We are to love our enemies, right. Okay, so shunning is not quite the extreme thing that some people think it is and practiced in some quarters to these extremes where there doesn’t seem like there’s any love.
Okay, so now in today’s Little Lesson, we’re going to look at another key passage of Scripture relative to the concept of shunning, and that is in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. His very first letter, and he tells the church to kick out a guy from the fellowship, and to shun him. So we got to get the context of this. Paul writes in I Corinthians chapter 5, right in the very first verse, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not even exist among the Gentiles.” Whoa. This must be some pretty heavy duty immorality. I wonder what it is because the Gentiles practice some pretty immoral stuff. And of course he’s talking about sexual stuff here.
And the Gentiles in Corinth, that was one of the most immoral cities in the ancient world. There was fornication going on, on a massive scale in the temple. The Pagan temple there in Corinth, and no doubt, of course, there was adultery, as well. But here is how Paul describes this guy, “It doesn’t even exist among the Gentiles. Someone has his father’s wife” And so it’s obviously couched in some bit of vague terms, but everybody in Corinth knew what he was talking about. I think we can figure it out pretty much, too, this is an immoral sexual relationship that somebody has, either with his stepmother, because he calls him his father’s wife, or worse. Oh, my goodness, his mother, which certainly, you don’t often find that amongst the Gentiles. You don’t find sex with the stepmother too often, either.
And so Paul corrects them. “You have become arrogant and have not mourned in the stead, so that the one who has done this deed would be removed from your midst.” In other words, I shouldn’t have to be telling you this, guys. This guy should have already been removed. Now why didn’t Paul say, “Take this guy through the three steps of confrontation, as Jesus prescribed in Matthew chapter 18?” Well, it’s because Paul didn’t believe that this instance was applicable to what Jesus said, or to what Jesus said was applicable to this situation.
Why? Because we’ll see that Paul is certain that the Corinthian Christians were not dealing here with a wayward brother, “if your brother sins, go to him.” They were dealing with a phony believer, whose facade is exposed by his gross immorality, and so you don’t need to take this guy through the three steps, as a brother in Christ, to try to bring him to repentance. This is a guy that shouldn’t be anyway associated with the church. This is an insider that ought to be an outsider. He should be treated like an outsider, so he should have been removed.
“For I,” Paul writes, “On my part, though absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.”
Now listen to this hopeful thing, “So that his spirit may be saved.” See, Paul didn’t believe that this guy was on the road, the narrow road to everlasting life. No, no, no. This guy was in darkness, total darkness. He had not been born again, he was not a true believer in Jesus Christ. He had no rights to be making a profession of faith in Christ. And so he ought to be pushed out of the church.
And again, but shunned, yes, excommunicated from the church, but shunned entirely to the extreme that some people advocate? No, no, no. We want this guy’s spirit to be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus, so after we get him out of here, we’re going to evangelize him because nobody gets saved without hearing the gospel, and having somebody present the call of God to repent and believe in Jesus. So we’re hoping this guy will ultimately be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus. That’s going to require the sharing of the gospel, but get him out of the church. He doesn’t belong there.
So then Paul, I’m skipping over some stuff. “I wrote to,” he’s now giving the rationale for his instructions, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral people.” Now here’s the clarification, “I did not at all mean with the immoral people of the world.” And then he lists some of the other ones besides the immoral, “Or with the covetous, and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.” I mean, you can’t escape those kinds of people.
“But actually, I wrote to you,” now listen closely, “Not to associate with any so-called brother.” Not a real brother, so-called brother, a phony Christian, “If he is an immoral person, sexually immoral person. Or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard,” so now he’s adding to the previous list there. “Or a swindler, not even to eat with such a one.”
So there’s no personal fellowship interaction, casual relationship stuff. It’s “this guy is not one of you, get him out of there.” He’s a stain and a reproach to the church, outsiders will look at him and say, “That’s a Christian? Goodness gracious, he’s living with his stepmother in an immoral relationship.” Or, he’s living with his mother, perhaps. That’s not a good representation of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
So Paul continues with this theme of you’re supposed to be judging those within the church. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those within the church?” That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is, “Yes, you should be judging everyone within the church.” But those that are on the outside, Paul says, “God judges.”
Now here’s the instruction. “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” Not remove the wayward brother, remove the wicked man, the so-called brother. He’s not a true brother. And in our next Little Lesson, I’m going to go a little bit deeper into the next chapter of I Corinthians, where Paul then drives this point home, people who are sexually immoral, no matter what their claim, they are not believers in Jesus Christ.
Okay. Out of time for today, hope to see you next time. God bless you.
Is It Right to Make a Judgment, About Who’s a Christian and Who’s Not a Christian?
Welcome to today’s little lesson, and for the past three little lessons, we’ve been talking about the biblical concept of shunning. We’ve studied Matthew 18, verses 15 through 17, Jesus’s three step instructions for confrontation of someone who sins, or sins against you.
Now, we’re looking at 1 Corinthians chapter five, where Paul is instructing the Corinthian Church to excommunicate a guy, whom he’s convinced is not a true believer. He calls him a so-called brother, and the reason is because he’s grossly immoral. He’s living with his stepmother in a sexual relationship with her, and some even think that he could be living with his widowed mother, or divorced mother in a sexually immoral relationship. So this is a kind of a morality that doesn’t even exist amongst the Gentiles, and Corinth was the most immoral city in the ancient oracle. So, this guy was bad news, and Paul says, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves, not remove the wayward brother. Remove the wicked man.”
Later on in 1 Corinthians, the very next chapter, Paul gives more insight as to how he feels about people like this. Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that there is a common Christian cliche, you hear it often. People say, “Well, all sin is the same in God’s eyes. If you tell a little lie, that’s just as bad as telling a big lie. If you hate somebody, it’s just as bad as murder.” They derive this sometimes from some things that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, but it doesn’t hold any water biblically, in the greater context of Scripture, nor logically. So, all sin is grievous to God, right? Right. But some sin is more grievous, and when someone is guilty of the most blatant, grievous, the most grievous sins in God’s eyes, that surely certainly marks them as an unbeliever according to the Bible, and we have that right to judge.
I was just reading this morning, in my own personal devotions, where John wrote in his first Epistle, “The children of God, and the children of the devil are obvious. The one who practices righteousness is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil.” There is a difference folks, between Christians and Non-Christians. Contrary to what that bumper sticker says, that Christians are not perfect, they’re just forgiven. Well, that is kind of a misrepresentation of the Gospel in my humble opinion, and yeah, Christians are not perfect, but they’re more than forgiven. They’re born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, children of God, on the narrow path that leads to life, and they’re striving to obey Jesus’s Commandments. If they’re not, they’re not a Christian.
Now, we’re going to jump ahead to 1 Corinthians chapter six, and it becomes crystal crystal clear, and this is something that I’m telling you, so many Christians fail, apparently to understand this. You hear these silly things about, “Well, we don’t know what’s in their hearts.” Well, wait a second, we don’t know what’s in the adulterer’s heart? It’s not purity, you know. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Jesus said. So, what comes out of the mouth is certainly a revelation of what’s in the heart. And Jesus said from the heart proceed all those wicked things and even lists adultery as one of those things. So, what’s in the heart of the adulterer? We don’t know what’s in their hearts? Oh yes, we do. Adultery is in their hearts. That’s why they’re acting out as adulterers. Also, there’s lust there. Lust always proceeds adultery.
All right, so are you ready to read 1 Corinthians chapter six, and verses nine through 11? This is the Bible. This is the New Testament. “Or do you not know,” Paul said, “that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Now, what defines an unrighteous person, according to Paul? Well, we don’t have to ask that question too long, because the answer is given to us right away. Paul elaborates in the very next sentence, and he doesn’t define the unrighteous as those who have not prayed the little prayer to invite Jesus into their hearts. That’s not the definition of an unrighteous person. Paul lists very definitively, “Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
You can see, it’s just as plain as can be. I know there are some Christian teachers who say that Paul is not talking here about ultimate salvation, but rewards that they’ll get in heaven. They won’t inherit the kingdom. That doesn’t mean they won’t get into heaven, as some people say. That means that they’re going to miss out on some of the perks up there in the Kingdom. Is that even worth commenting on? Jesus said, “Come, you who are blessed of my Father,” to the sheep on his right. “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Inherit the kingdom, and what happens to them? They enter into eternal life, whereas the goats are cast into hell. They don’t inherit the kingdom. Inheriting the kingdom is the same as getting into Heaven, being saved.
These categories of unrighteous people, who are guilty of practicing the most grievous sins in God’s eyes, they will not inherit the kingdom, and so that’s why when Paul identifies a guy in the Corinthian Church who’s living in an immoral relationship, he says, “Get the guy out of there.” Now I’m going to say something, and I hope you’ll keep listening, because this could be the most important thing I say. This was written to the Corinthian Church which was chock-full of all kinds of problems, which all had sin as their root, right? Oh my goodness, yes. There’s strife. There’s divisions. There is inconsideration with fellow believers during the Lord’s Supper. There were people even getting drunk in the Lord’s Supper. Although, Paul did mention here, of course, drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God, okay?
If you read through the Corinthian letter, 1 Corinthians, all those problems keep popping out, Abuse of spiritual gifts and so forth. Paul didn’t say to excommunicate anybody, but this one guy. See, so this is reserved for the most grievous sins. This is cause for excommunication and shunning. There are other things that are not as grievous to God obviously, or else Paul would have said, “I want everyone who was dividing and saying, I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos, I’m of Cephas… kick all those people out, all the people that are there, that are showing inconsideration in the Lord’s Supper. Kick all of them out. We’re just going to shun and excommunicate everybody that’s guilty of any degree of sin.” Well, there would be nobody left, and if you or I had been there, we wouldn’t have been left either.
This kind of excommunication is reserved for the most blatant sin. And if you’re part of a church that excommunicates people for little things, like they’re not going with the pastor’s vision, or all these types of things, that’s not biblical. When they start excommunicating people for little things. Paul says, “Such were some of you.” See, “were,” past tense. But you were washed. You were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God, because when the Holy Spirit comes to live in you, you get delivered from these most grievous sins very quickly.
Now, the other things, the less grievous ones, do take some time, but these babies, Man, out the door, and if we’re not out the door Pronto, well, there’s a big warning sign, that the new birth hasn’t happened. Okay, well over my time.
Thank you so much for listening. I think we’ll talk about this one more time in our next Little Lesson. Hope to see you then. God bless you.
What Is Ugly Shunning?
We’ve been talking for the last four Little Lessons about the biblical topic of shunning. I hope you’ve been watching those previous little lessons. It’d be best if you watch those ones before you watch this one.
So, we’ve covered a lot of ground in these first four little lessons. I want to talk today about ugly shunning. What is ugly shunning? Ugly shunning is when you’re not following the rules, the biblical principles, which are laid down for who to shun and why to shun and when to shun. And I’m telling you what, I’ve seen some things in my day. I’ve been in the vocational ministry for 40 years and a Christian even before that. So, I’ve seen a lot and seen it all, and I’ve seen a lot of unbiblical, ugly shunning within churches.
I’m thinking of one church in particular that is not too far from where I’m sitting right now. They’ll shun you if you transgress any small infraction. Questioning the leadership, for example is a big, big bad one at that church, and they will excommunicate you very quickly if you’re not clearly submitted to leadership. Nobody is allowed to question the leadership. Why? Because they are ordained of God, set there by God, and to rebel against the leadership is to rebel against God. That’s what they teach, and that’s what they brainwash people to believe. That’s ugly, ugly shunning.
We’ve seen from Scripture that you only shun people for unrepentant, grievous sin committed by those in the church. We saw that in Matthew 18. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you.” He’s not talking about outsiders. And Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this guy in the church, and he said, “I wrote you to not associate with immoral people. I didn’t mean with the immoral people of this world. You’d have to get out of the world then. I wrote you not to associate with any so-called brother, if he should be an immoral person or a swindler” and so forth. And he lists these categories of very, very grievous sins in God’s eyes. And he says those kinds of people, they’re not born again. Even if they profess to be born again, don’t buy it. Don’t buy it. They’re fooling themselves. The Holy Spirit cleans people up. At least to that degree. Okay.
And they had a guy in Corinth who was living with his stepmother in an immoral relationship, and goodness gracious still in the church, coming to the gatherings. Paul said, “Get him out of here.”
All right, so another form of ugly shunning is practiced by, I don’t want to say the majority of Christians, but man, oh man, it’s practiced by quite a few Christians, and that is this form of ugly shunning. I’m going to call it doctrinal shunning. Oh, I don’t agree with you doctrinally, and so I will have nothing to do with you. I can’t fellowship with you because you believe in the post-tribulation rapture, and I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, and so we cannot fellowship. Well, that’s ugly shunning. It’s not biblical shunning. It’s anti-biblical shunning. It breaks the bond of unity within the body of Christ. It shows that you think that the most important thing in Christianity is your doctrine. That’s not true. The most important thing is your obedience to the commandments of Christ. That’s the most important thing. And when we divide, which we do divide, oh my goodness, do Christians ever divide over doctrine, and they’re led by their doctrinal leaders, just like in Corinth. And Paul rebuked them for that. They were saying, “I’m of Paul. I’m of Apollos. I am of Cephas. I am of Christ.” And Paul just hammers them for their divisions. Division is a form of ugly shunning and it ought not to be. It ought not to be.
For the life of me, I cannot understand, and I call every pastor listening to me to repent of this right now. Why would you ever put a sign in front of your church building that advertises to the whole world that you’re different than those other Christians because you’ve added a doctrinal name to your church? We are the blankety blank church. We’re telling everyone we’re not like them. We’re not like them. We have distinctive doctrine, and that sets us apart from all the rest, and we want you to know it, and so it’s on our sign. That grieves the Holy Spirit of God.
You say, “Well, that’s just how it is. Yeah, that’s just how it is.” Grievous to God. Ugly, non-biblical shunning. You’re saying to people, “If you don’t agree with us doctrinally, you’re not going to be comfortable here because we are ….”
Now, am I saying that we should just throw doctrine out the window? Oh no, no. There’s essential, and then there are non-essentials. The essentials are things like the Deity of Jesus Christ, his sacrificial death on the cross, his resurrection on the third day, his coming again, his future kingdom, salvation by grace through a living faith. These are non-negotiable, cardinal doctrines of Christianity.
But you’ve got to agree with me. Armies of Christians who agree on the essentials shun each other because of the non-essentials and divide and advertise their divisions. That’s ugly shunning, ugly shunning.
Okay, so I’ve actually written an article called Shunning: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And so I look into biblical shunning and non-biblical shunning. I go into some stories. Oh my goodness. Some of the most unbiblical shunning the world, is practice by the Anabaptists, particularly the Amish, who have hundreds and hundreds of manmade rules, and they’ll shun you for the smallest infraction and kick you out of their church. And worse yet, when someone gets born again amongst many of the Old Order Amish sects, they kick them out. So, they shun people when they get saved. Oh, what a tragedy that is. So, I talk about that in that article.
So, that’s the summary of it, and all of this, of course, overriding all this is love, love for people because shunning people is really a natural response to the gospel. If I love people, I’m not going to accept their testimony that they believe in Jesus if they’re practicing grievous sin. And if I love God, I don’t want his message to be misrepresented by somebody. And so I have to speak up about that. I’ve got to do something about that. If I love my neighbor as myself, of course I’m going to confront my neighbor when I see that he’s doing something that grieves God, particularly if it’s an offense, a personal offense against me. We talked about that. And I can’t review everything.
Okay, we’re out of time once again, but thank you for listening to these five lessons on biblical shunning, and hopefully I’ve given you some basic principles to at least get you started in understanding what’s right and what’s not.
Thanks so much for joining me. If you want to be somebody’s hero, the “least of these” around the world are waiting for you to visit HeavensFamily.org. God bless you.