The statement by Paul in this passage is an important principle for Christian believers: don't consider it your responsibility to judge those outside the church, and I would add also, be very careful how you judge those inside the church! Yes, there is a time for judgement and not to have done anything in the case of this man in the church at Corinth would have meant the gradual moral decline and growing ineffectual witness of that fellowship. Now, think back to my introduction to these letters and note here that Paul writes of a previous letter which he has written. He does so to encourage those in the church at Corinth who had determined that his previous words had meant that they should remove themselves from the company of all those outside of the fellowship. Paul reinforces his stance that Christians should get involved in the community around them. Many churches in the UK in the 1960's and 70's encouraged rather the opposite. Everything you might want could be found within its walls and there was enough going on to fill every single evening of the week. Many Christian believers lived lives almost entirely within the church except for when they went out to work. I think that this was unhealthy and I've always tried to work to the principle of ensuring that certain evenings of the week should have no organised Christian activity and that has encouraged many at Bearfield to get involved in voluntary work within the community. So, those outside of the Church are to be left to the merciful judgement of God, who alone knows the hearts and reasons of everyone. My Grandad never attended church, but encouraged my Nan to do so. He had volunteered to join the army at the start of WW1 and had lied about his age, he was 14. He never talked about his experiences, but suffice to assume that they were traumatic and earth shattering for a young man! He only knew God through his wife, but I'm positive that God in His grace would have recognised that this was a damaged soul and welcomed him in to His Kingdom. 'To those who have received little, little will be expected; to those who have received much, much will be expected'. And I put myself in that second group.
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