Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What would you say?

I am going to present a situation that is not a hypothetical. Don't worry, it didn't happen to me, but it did happen in our SBC circle. I want to know how you would respond to this. In the simplest, most general terms, here it is.

1. An accusation against a believer is made by another believer.

2. The accused believer offers repentance on the spot if given the nature of the offense.

3. The accuser then says: "I don't know if your repentance will be accepted or change anything."

If you were a believer there in that moment, what would you think? What would you do? What would you say?

Again, this is not a hypothetical. This happened either yesterday or the day before--timelines are sometimes hard to follow.

Responses please.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,



Andrew Romig said...

When David was rebuked by Nathan for his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, the nature of his offense was revealed so that he could repent. His repentence did not "fix things", Uriah was still dead, and the first child that he and Bathsheba bore was killed as a consequence of his actions. Nevertheless, his repentence allowed him to return to a path of righteousness.
Rebuking fellow christians isn't about correcting a problem, it is about reaching out to someone in love who has strayed from God and challenging them to return to him. This cannot be accomplished without the nature of an accusation being revealed.

Furthermore, without citation of the grounds for accusation, accusing a believer (or non-believer for that matter) of anything is fundamentally asinine. One should either speak truthfully and openly about the offense, or keep one's mouth shut.

Moral of the story? I'd challenge the accuser to "put up or shut up" because an accusation with no description serves no constructive purpose for the accused, the accuser, or the body in general.

Kelly Reed said...

Actually, Andrew, # 2 should probalby read.

2. The accused believer offers repentance on the spot if given specifics to a general charge of offense

Andrew Romig said...

That, then, makes things obviously a bit more complicated.
In the end, however, I would still challenge the accuser to help clarify exactly what I had done wrong, assuming my purpose in asking for specifics was because I was unable to understand the general accusation.

Tony Duytschaever said...

First, as the accused but repentant believer, I would look to God and make sure my heart is "right with Him" as John Wesley put it. If my heart is right with Him, then I am at peace because no matter the accusation, as long as I offer repentance and I seek to be right with God, what someone else says is of no consequence.

However, I understand that problems with fellow believers can be troublesome. My response to a comment that my repentance is not sufficient, I would respond according to Jesus: Let anyone who hasn't sinned cast the first stone. This would hopefully show the accuser that we are all sinners and that the accuser has offenses that are just as grievous, that the accuser has no place to reject someone's repentance. This shouldn't be a retort or snide comment, instead an effort to become right with the accuser through correction and love to show that if genuine repentance is offered, it should be accepted just as Jesus accepts our genuine repentance.

Genuine repentance does change things. I always believe, it is not mistakes that define a person, but what a person does after those mistakes. Genuine repentance is a change of heart and an effort to make things right, what more could an accuser ask for? Genuine repentance involves love for God and personal responsibility: these two qualities are powerful and do bring about constructive and positive results.

Finally, if this exchange between the accuser and myself does not offer a resolution, then the pastor and possibly the congregation should be involved because relationships within the church are at stake. This should not be for punishment, but correction and the re-establishment of bonds and love between believers. I believe problems are best addressed by the entire congregation, as one body, moving in the same direction and spirit.

Some thoughts for people to comment on. This seems to be a complex issue.