I recently read the allegations regarding Eddie Long, Atlanta-area mega pastor. These allegations regarding sexual immorality are saddening though not much surprises me anymore. Long has been under investigation in the past for financial impropriety.
I am not interested in humiliating or insulting Long nor am I making a judgment regarding his innocence or guilt. However, I recently came across a thread on Facebook regarding this topic and wanted to provide a little bit of Biblical guidance. Read for yourself what some were saying:
I agree that we should examine ourselves and be slow to judge. God is the ultimate judge. However, this idea that we are NEVER to judge or never to make moral statements regarding the sin of other Christians is ridiculous (and unbiblical). Judgment is an integral part of being a Christian and being part of a faith community. Think about Paul, he spoke very clearly about how to deal with immorality within a church (see 1 Corinthians 5)! We are called to judge the Christian within the church! Furthermore, we must banish any nonsense that the “pastor” is God’s anointed and is beyond judgment. As a pastor, I pray that my brothers and sisters (my coworkers in the gospel) will be firm in holding me accountable.
I have been reminded of late about the massive misunderstanding that most Christians have regarding the nature of the church. One common fallacy of which I have recently encountered has massive implications for the way one lives and behaves. It is routinely propagated that one must behave in a particularly pious way “at church.” “Put on your Sunday best,” someone might say. Others balk at a pastor’s knowledge of popular media or his reference to popular culture while teaching. They say that it has no place “at church.” The manifestations of this Biblical mistake are never ending.
Ultimately some would have you believe that certain physical space is sacred and other physical space is secular. Like Moses and the burning bush, when you step onto the church’s property you are “on holy ground.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality of the New Testament is that believers are the ones who are holy, by means of the blood of Christ (1 Cor 3:16–17; 1 Cor 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16). The church is not a building (Eph 2:11–22) but a people.
On the one hand, what you do and say with the church should not be disconnected from what you do and say by yourself. Granted, the purpose of a church meeting together is different than when you are alone—mutual edification can only occur with others. However, there should be little difference in the manner of my living when I am with other believers and when I am by myself. If what I wear throughout the week is not appropriate for “church” then it is not appropriate for the grocery store. You might not want to wear a baseball uniform or pajamas to church (different purpose) but neither must you wear a specific “church uniform.” If God does not require a suit to go the baseball game then he does not require one when I gather with other believers. This thinking should extend to what I watch on television and the content of my conversation. As far as I can tell, the Biblical definition of sacred and secular is purely an inward category. Holiness is a function of our calling from God, not our location (Eph 1:4; Col 3:12; 1 Pet 1:15).
My entire life I have heard the incongruous phrase “Judeo-Christian.” People talk about Judeo-Christian ethics, values, political views, etc…
I would like to propose a banishment to this phrase. Obviously there is some overlap between modern-day Judaism and contemporary Christianity. However, there is no Biblical basis for the distinction and reunion of Judaism and Christianity.
First, Christianity is a term applied to Christ-followers by non-believers. Second, Jesus (and Paul, for that matter) saw themselves as completely within the Biblical (read: Israelite) tradition. Gentiles are actually joined to the promises of God which He made to the Israelites. Paul also makes it clear that ethnicity is not the determination of genuine ‘Jewishness.’ The Biblical definition of Jewishness (according to the Hebrew Prophets and the New Testament Apostles) involves consecration by the Spirit of God (i.e., spiritual circumcision).
Back to my main point: Scriptures (Hebrew and Greek… and Aramaic) are clear that ethnicity, tradition, and morality are not the basis of one’s relationship to God. God relates to all people on the basis of their faith in Him. The term “Judeo-Christian” is confusing because it strips the gospel (i.e., the saving work of Jesus) from behavior. “Judeo-Christian” outreach relates on the lowest common denominator of behavior. I believe Christians should work for the good of all people, but ‘good’ behavior will not get me closer to God but is (rather) a demonstration of the grace that God has show toward me in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.