March 12 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“If a man or woman living among you…is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God…and this is brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly.” ~Deuteronomy 17:2-4

Today’s reading challenges our modern notion of personal religion, or, as it is more specifically defined, our notion of private religion. Scripture teaches us that every worshipper accepts responsibility for the faithfulness of the rest of the community (Gal. 6:1-6). No one can say, Well, it’s none of my business what anyone else does! The entire community is to be zealous for the worship of God. If worshippers fall away, others are expected to investigate the matter thoroughly and do something about it (Deut. 17:1-13).

Gently confronting others in love is not just the responsibility of the paid minister. Do not be afraid to speak into the lives of the people you worship alongside. If you have ever been in a part of the world where everyone litters and there is no social pressure to keep neighborhoods clean, then you know how ugly a community can get over time. When we “spur one another on to love and good deeds, “ we create a kind of social pressure within the church community to follow God’s Word (Heb. 10:24). That’s encouragement we need, or in time everyone will do his or her own thing and the church will be an ugly place!

No one person can keep all the litter off the streets. Leaders must set the tone, and lead by example, but the entire community must be involved in this keep-it-clean project. When church communities fail to confront evil in their midst, as Moses ordered in today’s passage and as Paul reiterated in 1 Corinthians 5, evil spreads like cancer and destroys the beauty of the community. Hear this: even if a worshipper refuses to be reconciled, those who intercede have succeeded in keeping the community a beautiful place.

There are times when it is wrong for us to simply mind our own business. We need to gently confront those who are in our circle (our ‘tribe’ of friends, to borrow the Old Testament language) when we see them bringing possible harm to themselves or others. The most difficult cases should be brought before the elders of the worshipping community (and their ruling MUST be honored, see again Deuteronomy 17:8-13), but everyone has a responsibility to their fellow worshipper. While mutual care for the community’s spiritual health runs counter to the cultural notion of personal religion, community concern is a biblical value that must be embraced. Let’s love each other enough to talk to each other and even challenge each other to love God with our entire being. And let’s love our worshipping community enough that we will not tolerate those who try to destroy God’s beauty.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.