“I wrote in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 NET
We will put up with things in the world that we cannot tolerate in the church.
We do it because we have been sent into the world to preach the gospel of salvation.
Jesus ate with publicans, prostitutes and sinners, not because he was greedy, sensuous or sinful, but because the doctor went to the patients.
The Corinthians misunderstood Paul’s instructions in a previous letter. Others have also read the Bible wrong and tried to flee the evils of the world in monasteries, on tall poles or lonely mountains.
The whole sense of Scripture, the whole character of God, the entire mission of the Lord, is to go after rebellious man, to pursue the fleeing sinner, to enter the fray of frantic mankind and pull him back to his original design for divine fellowship.
The direction toward the immoral and sinful is demanding. The heart breaks in the presence of distorted souls. The saint wants to shrink from the filth that flows from mouths, the degradation of sex, power and possessions.
But more overpowering than the stench of moral corruption or the decay of spiritual death is the love that wants to revive a lost person for his true destiny, the compassion to rescue the perishing, the drive to save as we have been saved.
To go out of the world was unthinkable to Paul.
Such a worldly exit is no more an option for us.
Because Jesus came into the world. Because he sent us into the same world. Though divided by millenia and separated by language and technology, the world is still the world.
And salvation still comes exclusively through the message that Jesus Christ died to give life to all.