Archive for November 11, 2017

The first thing I would like you to notice is that this passage (Matthew 18) is exclusively for the church. I know this because the passage begins with “If your brother or sister sins against you…” We’ll see further evidence of this going forward, but this passage is for the family of God, the Church. Again this largely because these are eternal relationships, but beyond that, the church is supposed to be a “place” (the church is the people) of unity, where people work to restore relationships. It was never designed to be a place of turmoil. This is, at least in part, because a primary part of the reason the church exists is to attract unbelievers to the faith and to the Lord and why should they come into the church that’s full of turmoil, especially if they can find less turmoil some place else. The other reason for this is because we serve a God who is all about relationships. He created us for the purpose of being in relationship with us, to love us and for us to love him. Even before He created us, His trinitarian nature, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit shows us that He is even, in a sense, a relationship unto Himself. Yes God is all about relationships and His chief goal in everything is to restore relationship both between Him and us (which is why Jesus came) as well as our human relationships, especially in the Body of Christ.

So again Jesus tells us that if a brother or sister sins against us, we’re supposed to go in loaded for bear, having built an army around our side of the argument, so we can crush the erring spiritual sibling and win the fight, right? No!  We’re supposed to go to them, just between the two of us. We’re supposed to have a conversation, talk it out, work it out, get it our in the open early and get it solved before the whole thing festers or blows up. And you know it would work, right? A simple discussion right at the offset is usually enough to work things out. Easy peasy! So why don’t we do it? Well probably because we think they won’t listen.

The omniscient (all-knowing) Jesus already knew this would be our objection, so he answers it. If they won’t listen, “…take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:16 NIV) You know what this is all about, right. If the other person won’t listen, take someone along, a neutral party, someone who is a little bit more calm, cool and collected to be a sort of mediator. Again the purpose of this action is to restore the relationship, and it would work, you know it would. So why don’t we do it? Well this time, I think the answer is two fold. The first part is pride. What if you go to al the trouble of bringing in this third party mediator type and they hear both sides of the story. Now you are thoroughly convinced they will find in favor of you, but what if he hears both sides of the story, looks at you and says, “Sorry buddy you’re the problem.” That’s one possibility, the other is the same as before, a constant objection that stands in the way of so many reconciliations, “What if they won’t listen?”