9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, men who engage in illicit sex, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
This can be a difficult scripture, or it can be a really simple one – depends on how you view it, and where you think you fit into it. I feel like I can see myself in the list of immoralities that are listed. I have been known to eat the last piece of cake (greedy). I like a cocktail (drunkard). I have read and am trying to read more banned books (some are listed as sexually immoral). I once accidentally stole some seed packets from a market (thief). I have not swindled anyone, but I have talked my children, friends, and my husband into going to a particular restaurant that I wanted to go to instead of the one they wanted to go to (I like food!) I have definitely worshipped false gods as I have chosen to do something instead of studying my Bible or participating in church when I was on a trip, etc.
The list continues, especially when we are currently in an era when Christians have so many different views about what is morally correct, although it seems to be that this has been a common thread throughout time. We know there have been questions about circumcision vs not, divorce meaning that you are committing adultery with your next spouse, and the acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. (This is one of those so-called “clobber passages” often used to condemn the LGBTQIA+ community.)
These are ongoing debates within Christianity, and there have been discussions and Bible studies about them at MUMC. Thankfully MUMC has become a Reconciling Congregation. The church I left would consider MUMC immoral for the belief that LGBTQIA+ people are worthy of full participation within the church. I also wholeheartedly support my divorced friends and family members in their new marriages, so if that is immoral on my part, so be it! The really simple part of this scripture is that we are made clean, we are made holy with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (v 11).
Does that mean that we always get it right? No, we are human, but just like Peter saw in his dream about eating foods that were once banned (Acts 11:5-10), the Spirit will lead us in the way we should go. That doesn’t mean we should condemn others for things that we think they are doing wrong or immorally either because we have enough to do to deal with our issues, and our job is to love others. We are often reminded about the plank in our eye versus the splinter in another’s eye. (Luke 6:41, Matthew 7:3). It does mean though that we should be grateful for the cleansing we receive in Christ, and we should share that part with others.
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
When we read this passage, does it make us turn to judging others? Or do we think about the things we have done and then consider how we are washed clean in Christ’s forgiveness?
Prayer: God who cleanses us, help us to remember that we have been cleansed. There are those who disagree with how that looks in our lives but help us to trust you to help us do your will and live out our purpose for you. Amen.