According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, call out means:
: to summon into action
: to challenge to a duel
I would not encourage dueling within community and I am in no way advocating for you to start a fight club; no one wants that. But instead, I want to focus on that first definition of call out, “to summon into action”.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Jesus breaks down the calling out process well. If you’re in community with someone and they’ve sinned against you, you have the obligation to go to them and let them know how they hurt you. It’s amazing how often so many of our issues and conflicts come from a lack of self-awareness. I’ve hurt people that I had no idea I had hurt because I was so wrapped up in my selfish mindset.
Then, if that person in your community doesn’t respond and continues to sin, then you take it to the tribe or your community. These people can lovingly join you in talking with that person and praying for that person. This doesn’t look like gossiping or an intervention (no one likes being attacked or put on blast) but a conversation.
Then, if that person still continues in their sin, then you can take it to the church, whatever it looks like in your particular denomination and church body.
Verse 17 is the most amazing part of all of this to me! This person has hurt you, others in the community, and has refused to obey godly leadership; this is a hard person to love but that’s exactly what Jesus is instructing us to do. What people groups was Jesus known for befriending? Tax collectors and sinners.
When someone is called out in the community and doesn’t change their ways and continues hurting those in community we’re still supposed to love them. Maybe we’re not as close to them as we once were, maybe they’re no longer in our inner-circle of confidants, but we still are called to love them well.
This Biblical calling out process isn’t one that’s laden with strife or competition but is riddled with love and honor. We don’t call out the sins of our community members to the world but go to them first in private. We don’t point our finger at them hoping to make ourselves look better, we point out sin because we love and care for them. We don’t do this because we take joy in shaming others but desire for those around us to grow daily closer with Christ.
How do you apply this idea of calling someone out to your daily life?
Download Community: You’re Welcome at the Table, a free PDF, at sarahjcallen.com/community