A client recently shared something that really bothered me. Someone he had not spoken with in several years called him out of the blue to "confront" him over a rumor he had heard about him. Think of that. This person knew nothing about my client, about what was going on in his life, no context, no story. He had heard a rumor from someone else and had taken it upon himself to first assume it was true and second to confront my client over this perceived sinful situation.
Now, it would be easy enough to just write this off as someone with good intentions and bad information. My client could have said, "What you have heard is not true. Thank you for your concern." And that would have been that. In fact, this is pretty much what my client did say, and that was that.
Except it just doesn't sit well with me. It doesn't sit well with me at all. This isn't about whether or not my client was involved in sinful behavior; this is about someone from his past -- someone completely disconnected from his present -- assuming it was okay to step in and act as the moral watchdog of someone he hadn't spoken to in years.
I have come to a place in my life where I absolutely abhor our judgy proclivities. It reeks of arrogance, and it reveals just how little trust we have in God's ability to do God's job without our help.
The question at the bottom of our willingness to call someone out of the blue and confront them in this way is this: Do I trust the Holy Spirit is sufficiently capable of growing someone who calls Jesus "Lord" more and more into the likeness of Christ? What will I do if the way in which the Holy Spirit does this looks very different from the way the Holy Spirit has done this with me?
The world is in a state of deep moral confusion right now. This much is certain. But the confusion gets murkier and more dangerous as I assume the role of Judge for another person and set myself up as the arbiter of good and evil. If memory serves, this over-eagerness to determine good and evil is what got Adam and Eve into trouble in the first place. Since then humans have made themselves into false gods as often as we attempt to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in directing the conscience of others.
Jesus specifically instructed us not to judge other people. The Apostle Paul went so far as to say he wouldn't even judge himself. And yet we rationalize our way into ignoring this, offering justifications for why we need to disobey Jesus on this one thing (judging) in order to keep someone else from disobeying Jesus on whatever it is we're afraid that they might be doing.
We are not the ones who determine good from evil. We are not the morality police for the world or even other Christians. Unless you have been specifically called to pastor another person (and this is something the other person must willingly consent to) OR you believe you have received some sort of prophetic word for them (and be extremely careful about doing this because...you know...if you're wrong they have the right to take you outside the city gates and throw rocks at you until you're dead...plus blaspheming the Holy Spirit and all that) -- unless one of those two conditions is in place, you have no business trying to take the Holy Spirit's place in the life of another follower of Jesus.
I can trust the Spirit to lead you and afford you the freedom to follow the Spirit as best you can. If you're wrong, I can trust the Spirit to lead you and afford you the freedom to follow the Spirit as best you can. If after that I still think you're wrong, I can trust the Spirit to lead you and afford you the freedom to follow the Spirit as best you can.
If I think you're reading Scripture wrongly, I can trust the Spirit to lead you and afford you the freedom to follow the Spirit as best you can.
If I think you're living in open sin, I can trust the Spirit to lead you and afford you the freedom to follow the Spirit as best you can.
Do you get it yet? There is no point where we move beyond trusting the Holy Spirit without also moving beyond the grace of God to something inferior to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I'm not saying holiness is unimportant. I'm saying holiness is only possible in the context of freedom. All this external pressure can produce is compliance; it can never bring about true obedience. Obedience can never be coerced; it can only be freely given.
Besides...who says your definition of holiness and mine must match up line-for-line? Your journey is not mine, and mine is not yours. Our paths are different, and the Holy Spirit will use different means and different timelines to accomplishing this transformation in each of us. Abraham was not Jacob. Jacob was not Moses. Moses was not David. David was not Jeremiah. Peter was not Paul. You are not me. I am not my client. We're all in different places. We're all fighting different battles.
All of this is why the Spirit works the way the Spirit works -- because the Spirit's agenda is to grow us up to be more like Jesus -- from the inside out. The Spirit is clever and wise and competent enough to devise a plan for each of us individually that will accomplish God's purposes. We simply must give one another the freedom to walk this out because it can only be walked out in freedom.