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God Does Not Have

Updated on April 24, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

a zero tolerance policy.

Back in the late 70s or 80s, there was a baseball player who had trouble with drug addiction. His professional team kept giving him chance after chance to get his life together. They also received a lot of ridicule because they did not give up on this pitcher. It must have been 7 or 8 times that the Yankees gave Mr. Howe a second chance. It was unique to see a professional team not give up on one of their employees.

Especially since the advent of zero tolerance. Everyone from public school age to adult under the new policy has one chance to get it right. Since no one is perfect that is an impossible task. Then when the American Federal government attaches education money to the zero tolerance ideology then the practice used by the Yankees is excluded.

One of the problems with zero tolerance

is that mercy and justice are thrown out the window and cannot influence the judgment of those in authority. These are two elements that God said his followers must have- Micah 6:8. Zero Tolerance also does not work with those who are struggling in their faith. We were listening to Whitney Houston sing her song, I Love the Lord the other night and the Lord impressed on us the struggles that Ms. Houston had.

She grew up in the church and we are giving her the benefit of the doubt that she truly loved the Lord. But her inability to overcome her problems stifled her spiritual growth but it did not, we hope, stifle her love for God. It is her example that is the focus here. She was just one of millions of believers who struggle in their faith. For some reason, they do not have the courage, the strength, the ability to overcome their personal problems and cannot grow strong in the Lord.

These people do not need a spiritual zero tolerance policy. They need compassion, help, prayer and a lot more. The question strong, mature believers need to ask themselves is where would we be if God had a zero-tolerance policy. Where would we be if God did not practice grace, mercy and justice? One definition of grace is

Grace means to get something that you do not deserve; unmerited favor

That is what we receive

when God uses his grace to give us more chances than we deserve. Now God has punished sin and he has not given some OT people a second chance when they sinned. But those acts were not the result of a blanket zero tolerance policy. Aachen’s sin at Jericho, caused the death of several Israelites. Deaths that could have been avoided so his punishment was in line with God’s word that punished certain acts with the death penalty.

Ananias & Sapphira did not receive a second chance but their sin was very grievous. It did not qualify for grace and another chance. Paul also wrote about putting people out of the congregation for their sins {1 Cor. 5:1-13}. But that does not necessarily mean that the church puts struggling believers out of the church.

11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

These words are not to be used as permission or an excuse for any church to ‘act spiritual’ and stop fellowship with those who truly struggle in their faith. They are not an excuse to demonstrate to the world at how spiritual the church is nor to show that they are doing something about the problem. When the church properly addresses an issue, everyone will know they are doing something about the problem. Believers who struggle need real help, not judgment, condemnation ridicule and so on. They also do not need to be made an example of. That is something true justice does not do.

The church needs to take

its example from God not from human leadership or authority. It needs to obtain and apply true discernment so they can see the difference between one who is purposefully sinning and one who is actually having problems in their Christian life. This knowledge also helps the church to see that Peter’s execution of judgment on Ananias and Sapphira was not merely copying God and his actions in the OT but was done by the Holy Spirit.

In other words, the church does not falsely apply judgment because Peter did so in the book of Acts. Any disciplinary act or punishment should be led by the Holy Spirit not just done because church leaders can apply judgment.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

The writer of Hebrews is instructing the church to make sure that the people receive grace. Though we would caution that this verse does not over-rule the verses talking about church discipline. Providing grace does not remove any disciplinary action unless mercy is called for. When people return and ask forgiveness, grace needs to be applied and as Jesus said, forgive those that ask for forgiveness.

The church is not in the business

of cutting off those who struggle or make mistakes. It is in the business of leading struggling people to repentance and a new chance to live right. It doesn’t matter if it is 1 time or a dozen times, the church’s mission is still the same. Struggling believers are not a heavy stone hindering the church from achieving new spiritual heights. They are people who need spiritual healing, compassion and help.

Over the years we have read some former pastors and missionaries words after they have lost their faith due to the response they received from their church friends when they struggled in their faith. The words are not complimentary to the church and expose the lack of God’s grace amongst church members. Not all but a lot of them do. Some are unrepentant about their problems that led them to being ousted from their ministries and position in the church.

In our opinion, those sites should have a lot fewer members if the church was practicing God’s way correctly. So the church takes ridicule from other denominations and unbelievers? The church’s instructions do not come from those mocking groups. They come from God and God set the example for the church to follow. Harsh punishment when it is called for. Mercy when it is called for and repeated second chances.

God wants all men to be saved

and a spiritual zero tolerance policy does not work to achieve that goal. We should be grateful to God that he did not adopt a zero tolerance policy when he created life on this earth. His holiness is not tainted because of his policy of grace, forgiveness, mercy and multiple second chances. It is enhanced and shows us who God is.

He is not a mass murderer but a loving God that gives all of his creation the same chances. He is also a God who stand there and says:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.(Mt. 11:28 NASB)

Those words are for struggling believers as well.

© 2019 David Thiessen


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