My kids know the rules of our house. My husband and I both communicate the rules and expectations of our household to them and they know they should obey those rules as members of our family. When their friends come over, they are expected to abide by our rules, too. It is a matter of respect.
But if their friends go home, they abide by their parent’s rules. Their parents may not have the same rules as we do. We would never expect a child to go home to their parents and abide by our rules. There would be no accountability, no expectation and no obligation.
As believers, we are members of the family of God. In other words, if we have made a conscious and deliberate decision to become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are in His family. If we have not made that decision, according to the Bible, we are not.
Our Father has rules that He has given for His children, and He has given us His Spirit to help give us the power to obey those commands (Ezekiel 36:27 says He gives us His Spirit so that we can obey His commandments). Without His Spirit, we are not children of God and cannot obey. So that means that if we never made a conscious, deliberate decision to become a child of God through faith in Jesus, we are not in His family.
Should we expect those who are not in our family to submit to our family’s rules?
Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about the matter to the church in Corinth:
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
As God’s children, would it not be wiser for us to deal with the evil inside of the church family before we try to judge the world’s sin? I understand that we have beliefs and convictions, but we cannot impose them on those who are not in our family. They don’t understand or comprehend our rules and are not under any obligation to follow them.
When we are obedient to God ourselves and love those not only within our family but also those who are not, I really think that will leave a much better impression on them than boycotts, protests and angry arguments. They just don't get it. Why impose our house rules on those who are not in our family? It just does not make sense. But we can be an example – through our obedience and love for others and for Christ.
I have found that people are much more interested in what I have to say if they see my behavior lines up with my beliefs and if I show them respect, gentleness and love. After all, I used to be in their family, too. But by God's grace and mercy, I am now adopted into His.