Withdrawing Fellowship

Luther Blackmon
Marion, Indiana

Some years ago I went to Philadelphia to preach in a meeting. I arrived several days early to visit with a friend who lived there. On Wednesday night, one of the elders read a statement of withdrawal from one of the members. When he had finished reading, one of the ladies who were sitting about three rows back spoke out. What she said, I dare say, has not been spoken by many mothers. But she was right. Calling the elder by name she said, "that's my son, but I want all of you to know that I am in agreement with what you are doing; you had no other choice."

I have not been in that city since, and have no further information on the matter. But I have often thought of that mother. It must have been a very painful experience for her. But with a mother like that, I have a feeling that her son likely found his way back into the fellowship of the church.

In spite of the fact that the Bible says, "now we command you brethren in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us" (2 Thess. 3:6), sin among members of the church is often ignored.

A decision to withdraw from an unfaithful member of the church often meets with opposition. "You will drive him (her) so far away that he (she) will never come back." This is a puny argument, and the product of one whose emotions overcome his sober judgment, and his obligation to the truth. In 1 Cor. 5, we have an example of this very thing. A man had taken his father's wife. Paul calls it "such fornication as is not so much as named among the gentiles." The church was not doing anything about it. Paul writes a prescription for them: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the Spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

April 12, 1973