Specific Text: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
A few weeks ago we read about Paul's seemingly harsh advice to expel a church member who was participating in really ugly, public sexual sins. Since we don't really like confrontation, it is often easier for us as a church to just ignore problems or pretend they don't exist. Besides, we'll rationalize to ourselves, we don't want to scare people away from the church.
But now in 2nd Corinthians, we see the outcome of Paul's earlier decision: apparently the trauma of being thrown out of the church caused this man to bottom out and brought him to repentance. Now, Paul writes, the congregation must receive him back and "reaffirm their love for him." The harsh punishment did exactly what it was intended to do - restored the man to Christian obedience.
There are lots of reasons you come to church. Perhaps you like the social interaction. Maybe it's the awesome singing, or the activities and programs there are for the kids. All of these are good things, but none of them are the primary reason the church exists. The purpose of the church is to help strengthen and shape you into the new creation that your savior has made you into.
This molding and shaping requires church discipline. Most of the time, this discipline is very positive - like the discipline athletes take part in - and it takes place in the activities in the last paragraph. But there will be other times in which either you, or somebody that you care about, will need to submit to discipline that seems harsh.
When those times come, remember the goal of church discipline is the building up of saints and the restoration to love and fellowship that Paul writes about in the letters to the Corinthians.
Prayer For The Day - Dear Father, thank you for my church and for the many different ways it works to mold and shape me into a person who reflects Jesus. Help me to support and participate in efforts to build up others, and help me to submit to church in the difficult but necessary aspect of discipline. In your Son's name I pray, Amen.