Please understand that calls to repentance are not attacks. By calling other Christians to repentance over sin that we have noticed, it is neither our intention to express perceived superiority nor to injure anyone. We do not want to fight. We want the kingdom of God to go forth in power, and for the people of God to love their preborn neighbors as themselves.
Jesus said that He would ultimately spew the church at Laodicaea out of His mouth if they did not repent, yet He was not insulting them in that way. When the apostles corrected churches and individual Christians, they were not “talking smack” about them. In Hosea, God referred to Israel as His bride. In Isaiah 1, God called Israel “Sodom” and “Gomorrah”. Biblical examples of direct language of rebuke abound, and yet those expressions were good and necessary. When God, in Scripture, called His Bride to repentance, it was for the purpose of purifying and sanctifying her, helping her to see ways in which she fell short. We cannot repent if we are unaware of our faults.
Those who are born again are part of the Bride of Christ, not separate from her. Thus, when abolitionists, who believe the Gospel of Jesus and have repented of their sin and placed their faith solely in Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross and victorious resurrection from the dead to save them, address other professing followers of Jesus, we are not doing so as an outside entity. We are not attacking the Bride of Christ. We are part of the Bride of Christ.
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
We may be a different body part than one who falsely accuses us of “talking smack” about the Bride of Christ (if indeed the critic really does belong to Christ), but we are the part of the church that is rising up to call for repentance, revival, and reformation. The church must be semper reformanda – always reforming. Let none of us ever say “We have arrived. We’re good.” This is self-deception. We are not separate from the church. We are the part who has recognised that we as the church have not done enough to love neighbor. We are heartbroken over the sin in us and in our brothers and sisters. We are repentant. We rely on the cross to atone for our great sin. We are moving to bear fruit in keeping with repentance, to try no longer the patience of our loving Lord.
So please, come and repent with us. Examine yourselves, and hold fast to that which is good. Love your neighbor as yourself, even when that neighbor has identified your lack of love for neighbor.