Saturday 05 November 2016

Bible Book:

“Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (vv. 19-20)

Matthew 18:15-35 Saturday 5 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 41


Today's passage seems to complete our journey back from themountain top down into the valley. We are offered guidance aboutchurch relationships, the power of shared prayer and the need to beforgiving. We might understand from this that Matthew's communityof early Christian believers was suffering some of the samerelationship problems that occur in the Church today. There is avery practical and clear set of instructions as to how to respondto a conflict, beginning with clear advice to make sure that theperson that has upset you is told the nature of that upset andgiven a chance to listen and respond (verse 15). If they areunwilling to listen, that is the time to bring in other people,"witnesses" who can attest to the complaint (verse 16). If the onewho has offended still refuses to listen, then they should leavethe community of faith (verse 17).

What strikes me in this is the first part the emphasis on theperson being offended making the move to go and explain why theyfeel wronged. It is not unusual in churches for ministers or othersin leadership to be told that someone has done something wrong,sometimes to receive a complaint which then has to be dealt withformally and yet the person complaining has never told the offenderwhat has upset them. It's so much easier to moan or complain abouta third party than to face them and try to sort things outdirectly. Church communities can become dysfunctional and unlovingquite quickly when things are allowed to fester - in the end truth,however uncomfortable, usually works best in ensuring positiverelationships.

The passage ends with Jesus urging people to forgive each other(verse 35) - why should God forgive us, if we cannot forgive ourbrother or sister who has hurt us? The emphasis on forgiveness isimportant: it seems there is always the possibility for the one whohas been sent out of the community to return.

To Ponder

  • What circumstances do you think need to be in place for someoneto be restored to the church community?
  • Can you remember a time when you were upset by the actions ofsomeone at church? How did you respond?
  • How able are we to forgive others - even seventy timesseven?
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