Love Your Neighbor
We are supposed to be holding our Christian brothers and sisters up to the standards of God because we are living under the same commands.
Do you know what I love? Movies. I love comedies, Disney movies, chick flicks, action movies; I love them all. We all know what makes a movie great is when there is a huge twist towards the end that we never saw coming. I don’t like to try to guess what the twist will be because I like to be surprised. (Spoiler alert!) One of the biggest twists of all time happens in Frozen when Hans is actually the villain! (I did not see that one coming.) We all thought it was the Duke of Weselton, and for good measure too, because he looked like a villain.
While reading through 1 Corinthians 5:1-6:11, I realized there is a twist towards the end of chapter 5. In verses 1-5, he talks about the sin happening within the church and directs the church on how to handle it. Up until this point, I think that most of us would stand with Paul. If someone is sinning, it needs to be dealt with! In verses 6-8, Paul teaches that we are to not mix with hatred and evil, but we should stay on the side of honesty and truth. Again, we agree. Then comes the twist in verses 9-13.
“I wrote a letter to you to tell you to stay away from people who commit sexual sins. I didn’t mean the people of this world who sin in this way. I didn’t mean those who always want more and more. I didn’t mean those who cheat or who worship statues of gods. In that case, you would have to leave this world!”
If Paul isn’t talking about staying away from those outside the church, who is he referring to?
“But here is what I am writing to you now. You must stay away from anyone who claims to be a believer but does evil things. Stay away from anyone who commits sexual sins. Stay away from anyone who always wants more and more things. Stay away from anyone who worships statues of gods. Stay away from anyone who tells lies about others. Stay away from anyone who gets drunk or who cheats. Don’t even eat with people like these.”
When we read Scripture, it is so easy for us to think of all the people outside of the church that aren’t even living close to the expectations of God. We may get upset and frustrated with these people. It becomes “us” vs “them.” Or should I say heroes vs villains? Paul writes a huge twist in this chapter. These are not the people we are supposed to be correcting and judging. We are supposed to be holding our Christian brothers and sisters up to the standards of God because we are living under the same commands. We share convictions that non-believers don’t. The people that seem like the villains aren’t the evil people we are supposed to stay away from.
“Is it my business to judge those outside the church? Aren’t you supposed to judge those inside the church? God will judge those outside.”
So what are we supposed to do with the people outside the church who are not living like us?
In Matthew 5:44, Jesus tells us. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He tells us that the most important commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.” Then He says the second is “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” Who is your neighbor, you ask? Luke 10:25-37 tells us our neighbors are the people who aren’t like us. Furthermore, according to the story of the Good Samaritan, our neighbors are the people who we are the most different from.