When Is It Time To Turn Your Back On Someone?

Posted: February 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ve been preaching through the Epistles of John and trying to balance the demands for Christians to love while also separating themselves from certain individuals. So, when is it time for a Christian to separate themselves from someone else?

In the early church, we see the Apostles ordering the church to turn their backs on false teachers who distorted the Gospel and, if we are reading 2 Peter correctly, attempting to fleece Christians for money and seduce women.  Brushing over the tricky feat of identifying false teachers, I would imagine that no one would argue that it is wise to kick predators to the curb.

During my tenure as a pastor, wisdom has also dictated that I advise a handful of women to separate from abusive men.  I don’t know of many who would disagree with that advice.

But what about emotionally abusive people? What if they are spouses? Children? Church staffers? Siblings? Parents? What do you do then?

I’ve had to counsel committed followers of Jesus who battle depression, anger, anxiety, etc. because of those close to them.  What happens when such treatment lasts for years with no end in sight? What if such treatment is seriously damaging the person’s ability to follow Christ and make disciples?

The family is something truly sacred to most cultures but if parents, even those who call themselves Christian, use their children, emotionally battering them in the process, at what point should even a disciple of Jesus shake the dust off their sandals and walk away? 

In the Gospel of John, the inspired author writes that Jesus said and did many more things that were not written down but there are times when I wish someone had bothered to do so, because even after prayerfully consulting our Lord, it is tricky and messy to deal with situations where the truth is not so easy to grasp.

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