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Light as Love |Practical Polity

Responding to Sin in a Christ Centred Polity

Let’s be honest, this is all anyone thinks about when considering church polity–who gets to be the righteous-right-hook of God hurling the unbeliever from our midst!?I am being facetious, but the truth of the matter is that the number one question I get asked when discussing the decentralisation of power in the body of Christ is, “O—-kay. So, after we have adopted this ‘we’re all in this together, everyone pitches in,’ kind of polity–who actually has the power to defend the body against heresy?” Who gets to be Moses drawing a line in the sand, asking, “who is on the Lord’s side,”? The organisational structure we have adopted gives us the church culture we have today. The issue of defence of the faith is rooted in our deep belief in adversarial unity; the belief that the enemy of my enemy is my friend or that our unity is equal parts based in faith and the real and present danger of sin and darkness and so what we need is a strong leader to stand at the door of the church and pass judgement.

Historically we have come to two main positions about the defence of the faith–neither of which conform to the whole of the council of God. The first is, of course, the Elders. The result is that however heavily we impress that all stand equal at the foot of the cross, the Elders are more equal and therefore able to create extra-biblical theological treatises and pronounce judgement when they are not heeded in a type of animal farm scenario. The second position is, “no one has to defend a lion! You need only release it!” Harrowing, but also faulty. The word addresses the defence of the body and, at times, seemingly leans further towards one or the other response. But, try as we might, organisation cannot be extracted from unity. Each of these answers betrays our belief that unity is based either primarily in faith, hope or love. The Bible overwhelmingly says that our unity is primarily in love (1 Cor 13). Faith and love, draw us together, hope and love keeps us together, but love itself is the binding agent. Going forward with the belief that our unity is primarily in love and then in faith and hope we can take an honest look at what is supposed to happen when sin enters the body.

It’s Not Supposed to Be Like This

Our various current organisations facilitate the sad reality that we currently live in where sin is allowed to set in and fester in the body of Christ. This sin eventually triggers organisational breakdown, mass deconstruction and a falling away from the faith when the sin committed within the body is equated with the normal functioning of the body of Christ. You can read more about this is our analysis of abuse in the body of Christ and our analysis of deconstruction.

The 2 Step

In Wisdom in Love we briefly discussed the sin that basing our unity in faith or hope first causes within the body by causing the believer to create hidden theologies and lifestyles all the while confessing and professing a lie to maintain spiritual status among the body of Christ. These hidden theologies and lifestyles often manifest in future sin, not only in the leadership but also in the body. So the first step to dealing with sin in the body is a relatively simple one, unite around love first and let go the burden of pretence which we have laid on the body of Christ.

Lest the reader think, “Here he goes! No respect for the Word of God! Of course sin will disappear when you stop calling sin, sin! Unity at the cost of orthodoxy is heresy! Burn the witch!” The second step to dealing with sin in the body of Christ is to acknowledge that, given the right conditions, sin cannot exist in the body of Christ. This refrain goes throughout the old and new testament.

“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;”

Psalm 1:5 English Standard Version

Lastly, God’s anointing protects us from being led astray

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

1 John 2:26-27 New International Version

1 John has so much more to say about recognising true righteousness and living as the people of God that I could literally republish the letter here, so I highly encourage you to revisit John’s first epistle with fresh eyes, and open heart and the mind of Christ.

James 1 Lit Test

If I could give two practical words of advice for current church leaders in dealing with sin among the body, the first is this: declare a year of Jubilee and do away with your oaths, creeds, theological documents, standards of conduct and any other human documents and watch the wolves emerge among your sheep. Just having these documents gives them the wool and talking points they need to pretend and without them in the pure light of the gospel they will not be able to stand in the presence of the righteous. Be prepared to see people you think are mature in Christ show themselves to be babies as they will have copy and pasted these documents as their own faith and will not be able to stand. They will not have heard from the Spirit of God, if not ever, then in a very long time. They will not be fluent in the gospel; being able to apply it to every day life. They will have built for themselves secret theologies and secret lives as will all of the people of God who are under such documents. Rid yourselves of them, and see what sifting of the sheep and goats happens without any type of over lording behaviour from you.

The second piece of advice is, after you have declared a year of Jubilee, edify and encourage the believers in your care of their spiritual rights in Christ. I encourage you to seek them out yourself and use the list we have compiled as a start. When you have removed the stop blocks from them that enslave the people of God to the things of this world, you will be releasing them to be who God has made them to be, and freed them from sin to be.

Turn on the light of love in your hearts and watch the darkness disappear from within and among you, and when you have done this, you will be able to return to Jesus’ treatment of church discipline with hearts full of love and mercy and forgiveness.

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