Sunday, July 30, 2017

Brought Back In

One area of the church in Mibu we've seen come to a place of maturity is regarding biblical church discipline. This is when someone is persistent, even deliberate in sinful behavior, having no remorse and showing no intent or even desire to be changed, despite repeated attempts by people in the church and its leaders to warn and encourage them. It's a natural outworking of those who truly see themselves as the body of Christ, bought with the price of his blood, called to be sanctified, made pure. When someone who claims to be putting their faith in the work of Jesus, yet continues to live in sin, and even defends their behavior rather than show repentance, the rest of the body recognizes that this person is not one of them. They know such a person poses a grave danger to the rest of the body who, though sinful themselves, at least recognize their sin, and loath it, and desire the purity that Christ offers. So the unrepentant person is removed from the congregation, to be considered the same as an unbeliever. The hope is that being put outside of the fellowship of those under God's grace would get their attention, and that they'd once again turn to the one who saves them. Such disciplinary measures might be hard for many of us to swallow when we hear of it, especially given our culture these days. The Mibu church struggled with the idea too! That is, until they saw the failure of NOT having biblical disciplinary measures in place to protect the church and keep her pure. So, more and more, they tried implementing discipline as seen in scripture and saw quickly just how much blessing is to be had through it! One success after another as people who were being excommunicated were coming back into the fold with repentant hearts and changed lives. They saw just how special and serious it is, this new life we're given through Christ's sacrifice on that cross! Through biblical church discipline the person is reminded of the futility and pain of separation that sin causes. Many times, we've seen that the result is that the hardened heart is softened and that eyes are turned to depend on Jesus, and to live in gratitude for what he's done for them!

As this has become more and more of a normal practice for the church in Mibu they've developed beautiful, indigenous forms for celebrating the bringing back in of a brother or sister into the church! We've seen this happen twice in the last month and a half! The church expresses their excitement by bringing their newly welcomed brother to the door of their place of meeting, offering a prayer of gratitude for them, adorning them with flowers, and bringing them in with a musical procession, dropping flower petals before them, and sitting them in amongst their brothers and sisters. Nobody's looking down on the person. Everyone is aware of their need for Christ and just thankful that one of their bretheren is seeing their need too! Some of the leaders then share about the significance of the event! It's a wonderful, and genuine outworking of an appreciation of who we are as God's people! It's also one aspect of church life that reflects the kind of maturity that gives us confidence in their ability to stand on their own when we're gone someday!

Thank you to all of you who are praying for us and providing financial support to be able to continue the ministry here in Mibu. Seeing things like this are evidence that our prayers and support are indeed producing fruit! We couldn't be here doing what we're doing without your help!

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