Text: Matthew 18:10-20
For those in the Church with whom you are in conflict
To notice those who often escape notice
For whoever is considered contemptible
WE ARE NOT ACCUSTOMED to reading Scripture with humor or gentle irony. We prefer to go to them solemn, with full propriety and reverence. Much like the attendant who is focused only on behaving properly before the king and misses the king’s kind engagement, we risk missing our Lord’s gentle and wry wit. It is clear from reading the Gospels that Jesus was quick on his feet and able to use a clever turn of phrase to make a serious point.
This passage about how to deal with conflict in the congregation is a case in point. The outline is straightforward: if your Christian brother or sister has wronged you, go to them and explain what is wrong. Notice the point: “you will have regained/restored your friendship.” If the result is not reconciliation, then bring two or three others. The implied expectation is restoration. If that doesn’t work, then let the whole congregation hear of the wrong and make judgment, again with the goal of reconciliation and restoration. If, after all that, just treat that person like you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
I wonder how much Matthew the tax collector grinned as he wrote down those words…
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks