Vol.XX No.V Pg.1
July 1983

The Embarrassed Church

Robert F. Turner

A young lady "came forward" and told the preacher she had "embarrassed the church, and wished to make it right." He dutifully reported this to the congregation, a prayer was offered in her behalf, and everyone seemed happy. Others might say they "brought reproach upon the church," or "have not been faithful to the church." In one sense "the church" or "called out" saints represent the cause of Christ; and misconduct on the part of professed saints makes it more difficult to promote that cause. But is that our concern and emphasis?

A subtle change in emphasis may take place. Our personal or corporate reputation may be at stake. Are we more interested in preserving our image than in correcting sins against Christ? Why do we not say, "I have sinned against heaven..." (Lu. 15:21).

David said, "I have sinned against Jehovah" (2 Sam. 12:13); and Nathan said he had "given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme" (v.14, Cf. Rom. 2:24). God has been reproached, not man. Or, when Simon had sinned (Acts 8:18-24) Peter seemed more concerned with Simon's lost condition than with the reputation of the saints. Is this our concern? Have you noticed a difference in treatment of the little-known sinner, and one from a prominent family? In well known but non-sensational sin, and one that made headlines — especially if "the church" was mentioned? In such cases each member must examine his conscience, making a sincere effort to put the cause of Christ and salvation of a lost soul before personal or corporate pride.

True saints are converted to Jesus Christ; being baptized into Christ, striving to be faithful to Christ. If they ignore the command to assemble they ignore Christ's command (1 Cor. 11:23-f). Fornicators and adulterers break their marriage vow to God (Jas. 4:4, 1 Cor. 6:15-f). When our miserly contribution lies about our prosperity, we lie to God (Acts 5:3-4). Certainly we have failed our brethren with whom we have covenanted and who depend upon us to "do our part"; but it is a sinned-against Christ whom we must meet in final judgement, not an "embarrassed church."