You might be in a church that doesn’t do it. You might be in a church that does it badly. You might have no idea what I am even talking about.
Well, let’s define what biblical “church discipline” is. The term “church discipline” is not in the bible but the concept is.
The Bible says things like:
You should remove this man from your fellowship. 1 Cor 5:2
Don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 2 John 2:10
If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. Titus 3:10
You’ll find a good overview here.
So if the bible says it and teaches this concept all over the New Testament why do we get it so wrong?
Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister. 2 Thes. 3:15
One of the reasons I think we are scared to approach rebuking or disciplining a brother or sister is because we have the wrong idea. Someone told me once that you are supposed to treat them as if they are dead. YIKES! No way!
It should never be motivated by revenge. It should never be hostile. It should never be punishment. The motivation is love. The reason is to rescue them from sin. The hope is for their eternity.
We have weak fellowship.
You must call a meeting of the church… Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns. 1 Cor. 5: 4-5
So the idea is that the separation compels a change of behavior. But what if there is nothing to separate? What if there is no fellowship bond to break and no connection to cut?
We can’t practice biblical discipline until we practice biblical fellowship.
We lack love.
I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. Col. 2:2
Intimate fellowship is a prerequisite for any discipline to have an impact.
And we have to love people enough that their salvation matters to us. Avoiding and ignoring sin in brothers and sisters lives lets our fear and awkwardness trump love.
Our love has to be bold and brave and ready to go into the hard places for the people we love.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. Heb. 12: 6
We lack faith.
It is counterintuitive to us, but we have to remember God’s wisdom is way beyond us. He is the author of the very first tough love program. We have to trust he knows what he is talking about. We have to obey even when it’s hard and doesn’t make sense.