2 Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
Sin ruins relationships. Even the best of friends and closest of confidants can be pulled apart by sin. Pride, jealousy, hostility, conceit, can all creep in and take what used to be edifying and uplifting and make it a mess. Paul, who was influential in building the foundations of the church of Corinth is now finding himself having to defend his apostleship. He knows that when he visits Corinth again things will be awkward. He won’t be able to be nurturing and they won’t be kind. He will have to confront and they will have to give an account.
A few things I see immediately.
1. There is no such thing as a perfect church. Even local churches the apostles started had serious issues. All those issues boil down to one issue…sin. If we are ever trying to put our finger on what is wrong in the local church it is simple. Sin. The church has been redeemed but the church still sins. Everyday our actions and attitudes highlight the reason Jesus came in the first place, because we are sinful and sin ruined our relationship with God.
2. Christian leadership has to call sin out. It isn’t easy and it’s not what a leader wants to spend their time doing, but it is part of the job. It isn’t comfortable and it shouldn’t be. No satisfaction is found in it, only when the people respond in obedience. If a leader enjoys calling people out, he or she is in fact in sin themselves.
3. A leader should mourn over sin. A leaders response to sin should not be simply frustration, anger, and impatience when people don’t obey Jesus’ commands. Most importantly it should be sadness and mourning. Why? Because the people aren’t disobeying the leader alone, ultimately they are disobeying Jesus. Sin ruins lives, marriages, relationships, friendships, and churches. When sin goes unconfessed and pride wells up and tempers flair and bitterness is rooted, then the love of Jesus is no longer the story being told. The beauty of the gospel is dwarfed by the shadow of sin and by a church that looks and acts like it isn’t redeemed. This should cause the leader’s heart to mourn. Anger isn’t a sufficient response to God’s glory being robbed. Only mourning is sufficient.
Father help me lead people to follow you. May I not be surprised when people act out in disobedience. May I be broken over my sin and the sin of the local church. May I lead, not in anger and frustration but rather in humility and brokenness. May I be the chief mourner over sin in our local church.