In today's sermon, I explored Jesus' parable and extracted at least three nuggets of truth:
- In any church, we should expect to find both 'good' and 'bad' people.
- We should be careful about trying to ousting bad characters, lest we cause more harm than good.
- God promises a final judgement where sin and evil are judged and goodness is vindicated.
While these three points are (in my mind) a faithful study of Scripture, on reflection I think the below caveat still needs to be added to this sermon:
While it may be fruitless and counterproductive to remove a member who proves to be meddlesome, it doesn't mean that they should be nominated to serve on Session, or be asked to serve in the Sunday School.
Most of us can imagine how trying to remove a member could easily backfire on a congregation. For those who love controversy any sort of 'trial' could become the very circus they would desire, providing them with a podium to broadcast their twisted understandings of the world. To give them less attention may indeed prove a more effective way of handling them. The church is allowed to give its focus on its task and mission, without distraction.
That being said, this doesn't mean that bad behaviour should be ignored. The church should practise discernment when it offers others leadership: peoples' character and patterns of behaviour need to be assessed. To fail to do so, would be an abdication of responsibility. We are called to be wise, not naive. If we suspect that people have improper motives we should not put them in a position where they can impact more people and cause greater damage.
And so once again we are reminded that the life, the task of the follower of Jesus is demanding and difficult. We are called to love and serve God with all our heart, with all our strength, with all our soul, and with all our mind.