1 Timothy 5:19-20 (NLT)
19 Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.
The Apostle Paul gives advice to his beloved friend Timothy concerning the administration of the church. Paul states one should take the time to listen to several people before jumping to a conclusion concerning another. It is best to have at least 2 or 3 who can independently confirm an accusation and not just depend upon the voice of one person. Paul also says those who have been confronted and continue in their habitual sin while professing Jesus Christ should be reprimanded before the church so others will know those actions are inappropriate.
This is a story written by Pastor Matthew Woodley, �Evangelized by the Pizza Man�, from his blog dated 08/13/09. It demonstrates how uncontrolled sin in the church affects those around us.
My friend Emilio owns a tiny pizzeria that makes the best New York pizza on Long Island. Emilio hates �organized religion.� Above the stove where he sticks the orders he also collects small newspaper clippings about flawed and fallen ministers. I call it his �rack of shame.� Every time I come in for pizza he leans over the counter, slides a few clippings on to the counter and whispers, �Hey, look at this. This padre walked off with $80,000. This pastor slept with three church members. This guy abused little boys for twenty years. Okay, do you get why I don�t need your church?� Then with a triumphant flair he sticks the articles back on his �rack of shame.�
A few months ago, fed up with his clergy-bashing, I blurted out, �What does this prove, Emilio? So priests and pastors do despicable things. What if I started a rack of shame for people in your profession and then declared that I will never eat pizza?� Actually, over the next few weeks I tried rummaging through newspapers looking for articles about pizza guys doing nasty things � spitting in the bread dough, using cheap Ragu instead of homemade sauce � but apparently pizza guys live pretty clean lives.
Finally, after a month or two of bickering back and forth I came to Emilio and said, �I need to order two slices of cheese and I need to ask your forgiveness.� He bristled and shot back, �Is this a joke or a trick?�
�No, really, Emilio, I�m truly sorry for being a jerk and for arguing with you � and I want the cheese slices too. The truth is that ministers do screw up. We can be pretty decent people; but sometimes we�re frauds and hypocrites. Sometimes I�m a sham.�
Emilio immediately softened (and we�ve actually become friends), but I didn�t say this as an evangelism strategy. I said it because it�s true and it�s the Gospel. I love the line that summarizes the Gospel this way: We are more flawed than we�d ever dare to admit; we�re more loved than we�d ever dare to imagine. I�m not sure why it�s so hard to get this simple truth. I qualify for the cosmic rack of shame, but then through God�s infinite mercy, Jesus took my place on the rack and set me free.
Emilio, my outraged, anti-clerical, unchurched, pizza-making friend helped me see the Gospel again. I guess he evangelized me. Gosh, I have to be more careful: Jesus keeps sneaking up on me. I never know where he�ll pop up next.