Dallas - my friend" /> Dallas - my friend" /> Dallas - my friend" />

My friend - Dennis

 

My first local true church fellowship sometime after conversion was a very profitable one for my wife and I.  We had been looking around since being baptized together, dabbling in protestant circles and in charismatic ones as well. Interesting, and perhaps we should say sovereign circumstances, led us to move into a little duplex just down the street from a small Baptist fellowship- walking distance.  Here there were serious Christians, along with decent teaching and preaching and fellowship. There was a solid group of deacons, which in practice is the Baptist semi-equivalent of an elder (sort of). It was a good start for a rough young fellow with a lot to learn, and his wife too.

 

Having been converted in late teenage years, there was much to learn and to unlearn without having had a biblical background.  Should the holy scriptures be part of the reader's childhood, please pause to thank God, it is an unspeakable blessing.

 

Anyway, there was an odd person in this local fellowship. Of course we are all odd in one way or another, but this one in particular. He was a man perhaps in his late twenties. He smelled odd, wearing a touch too much of his chosen cologne (or deodorant?). He looked odd too. His mannerisms were odd, and his perspectives often odd and a tad edgy. But in Christian circles, odd people are the norm.  Humanity is odd, after all. And God calls sinners to himself from all walks of life. The world speaks of diversity, the church has it. Both in true disciples and professors.  

 

Dennis* was his name, and he had a few opinions, one being a stringent King James Onlyism viewpoint that he would willingly argue if given opportunity.  One day Dennis asked me if I could take him Monday morning to the downtown area of a nearby city in which I worked. I did so, dropping him off several times over the following weeks on my way to work. I didn't pause to think how he got back home each day, but he did. He was a bit elusive as to what he was doing there in town. Strange conversations would take place in the car, but nothing totally absurd or shocking. Just more of the odd-ness mentioned above.

 

Unknown to myself, though, there were other things taking place that came to a head when Dennis was visited by the pastor and a deacon or two one day. It seems he answered the door....in a dress. Some things transpired in the background as that group of godly men dealt with a troubling situation of sin and debauchery. You see, Dennis was going downtown occasionally to turn tricks, as they say. Needless to say, it is unpleasant to discuss such matters.

 

Well these brothers in leadership began to deal with him in love but firmness behind the scenes. They offered counseling, confronted the sin, one even offered to pay for some specialized counseling. But Dennis refused, and more-so, refused to turn from this behavior, thus inviting church discipline.

 

1 Corinthians 5 should be consulted here, but suffice it to say that in the body of Christ, there is to be discipline when needed, and Dennis was heading this direction. The end goal of discipline is repentance and restoration, but when someone refuses then the command is to "put away from yourselves the evil person." (verse 13).

 

Things came to a head one Wednesday evening at a church wide meeting to address the situation. He had been approached by more than one brother, and it was time to "tell it to the church" and if necessary put him out of the fellowship. The goal being restoration, if he was a believer and would repent.

 

Dennis did not choose to attend this meeting but in a unanimous move the local church put him out of fellowship. It was a time filled with tears and difficulty for those in authority especially, yet they obeyed the Lord in the matter. Some thought perhaps I would take it badly, but in honesty I was watching something outside my sphere of experience, taking it in, ultimately in a sad but profitable way.

 

I never saw Dennis again, nor did I hear what happened to him after he was put out. I've done name searches online, but his first and last name combination made it difficult to locate him. God knows.

 

As a young believer though, this made a tremendous impression on myself and others. These Christians were serious about their faith, enough to do something most uncomfortable and in some ways tragic for the man in question.

 

But this is the nature of biblical Christianity. It sometimes does the hard things, it says what needs to be said, and it is counter culture. And in doing so, it shines a light upon the sin of the world. And the world does not like it.  But it honors God, and at least for this young Christian, it was eye opening and profitable to watch it unfold. I sincerely hope Dennis didn't perish in this condition.

 

G

 

 

*Dennis was not his name, changed herein for privacy reasons.