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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Opposing Sin

If we will not oppose sin we will ruin every stable social institution.

...he who shuns the toil of chastising and opposing sinful men is a hireling...

  - Columbanus, Letter to the Bishops of Gaul (Irish, 7th century)

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

  - Galatians 2.11

Columbanus had come to Gaul to preach the Gospel to a people who had known the Gospel for four centuries already. But they had not remained faithful.

The Church in Gaul was in a dreadful state, largely because priests and bishops were more interested in keeping in good standing with the scandalously sinful civil rulers than they were in furthering the Kingdom of Christ.

Columbanus preached the pure Gospel, and he made no bones about the need for repentance. When he saw the sorry condition of the churches there, he started writing letters to the pope in Rome, each of them to the effect, "Can't you do something about these slackers who work for you?"

The bishops convened a synod and sent a letter to Columbanus to attend. They intended to put him in his place once and for all. Only he refused to come. He was much to busy doing the work of the Gospel to attend a gathering of "hirelings" and be subjected to their empty words.

Columbanus made no secret about his hatred of sin. The Catholic priests and bishops knew it. The king and queen mother knew it. His disciples knew it. Opposing sin was risky business in Gaul in those days, and it ultimately got Columbanus run out of town at sword-point.

But not before thousands had repented and come to faith in Christ, and two monastic foundations had been erected to train the next generation of bold preachers.

In the Church today, are we more like Columbanus or like the bishops of Gaul when it comes to confronting the sin in our midst?

Gildas, a century before Columbanus - a writer Columbanus quoted to the pope as offering depictions of priests that could have been written about his own charges - described the pastors in Britain as ruining not only the Church but the nation as well by their unwillingness to face up to sin and deal with it.

If we will not oppose sin - in our lives, our churches, our leaders, our nation - we will ensure the ruin of every stable social institution. Begin with yourself. What are you harboring that you know the Lord despises? What sin of commission or omission is impeding your prayers (Ps. 66.18)?

It may be difficult and even risky business standing up to sin - like Paul with Peter. But what price do we pay, and what legacy do we leave, when we shun the toil of chastising and opposing sinful men?

Beginning with ourselves?

Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe

ReVision - Take, for example, the shameful condition of Christian education in today's churches.

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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