These are my notes from our 7/29/2012 church meeting.
Leader: Jon Atchison
We will talk about courage as that has been on my heart lately. As our culture further slips into a moral landscape that is foreign to the Kingdom of God, we have the ability to truly Shine as lights in a dark and perverse world. Our strategy should not be one that employs a heavy hand of truth but rather one modeled after Christ—Truth and Compassion personified! He didn’t compromise truth to be popular but he didn’t use a heavy hand when he encountered the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t let her sin repulse him into a poisonous response, but rather his compassion was the best vehicle for truth.
Be thinking about outreach strategies that you have employed in the past. What “vehicles” have you employed in the past? Did it match the best example recorded, the example of Christ? What can we do differently? How should we view those who are not in Christ?
The closer we are to Christ, the more effective HE will be through us.
Jesus knew the hearts of every person, which gave Him a tremendous advantage for knowing how to handle each situation. Jesus shows us at least two styles for handling situations involving those living in sin.
Woman Caught in Adultery
53 Then they all went home, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:53-8:11 NIV)
Here Jesus taught the Jewish religious leaders and the adulterous woman about compassion and gave her a second chance to correct her life. We know nothing more of this woman’s life, whether she obeyed or continued to lead a life of sin. One thing is certain, however: she received from Jesus what she was not expecting.
Rebuking the Religious Leaders
Jesus employed a very different strategy with the hard-hearted Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, priests and teachers of the Law. On two occasions, He cleansed the temple.
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:13-17 NIV)
At times, Jesus was used very harsh language in rebukes of these people, in hopes of convicting them of their sin.
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see…
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
(Matt. 23:1-5a, 13-15, 23-28 NIV)
Each situation must be approached prayerfully, scripturally and in an attitude of love. The NT shows we should deal with those outside of Christ differently than spiritual brothers and sisters who are living in sin. Paul said that Christians should speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) for the purpose of growth of the body of Christ.
Once the proper steps have been taken (Matt. 18:15-20), Christians are to put the unrepentent sinner out of their midst (1 Cor. 5) so that they, missing the fellowship and spiritual family they once had, will hopefully repent of their sin and receive forgiveness to get back into Christ (1 John 1:9).
Regarding the world (and sin in general), however, we need to be zealous people. The case of Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, comes to mind (Read: February 12 – Be Zealous for GOD).
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’”
We need to speak up. Pray to GOD to give us the words at the right time. Pray for courage and a loving attitude. Pray for a receptive heart to His words. Then, get out of the boat, walk by faith and speak up! GOD help us…help me…to speak up.