Sunday, November 15, 2009

Resolving disputes in the church - "Go tell it to the church"

In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus says,

15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
At each step of the process, it is possible that the 'victim' may realize, or be told by the others, that he has been mistaken in his accusation.
Many pastors try to circumvent the order, "Go tell it to the church".
Some say it meant 'tell it to the small group', or elder board - not the entire church congregation.
But it clearly says 'church' here; the small group may have been the 'two or three witnesses' earlier.
Could it be that Jesus meant "entire church" so that justice would be done?
Otherwise "small group" could be a handpicked group of people who would, out of loyalty or other reasons, blindly go along with whatever the leader(s) said, and not impartially examine
the actions and cases of both parties with the Bible.
In other words, "small group" could just be a lynch mob.
(For pastors, is this one of the Hard Sayings Of Jesus? :)).

Furthermore, I wonder if telling it to the entire church removes politics (or manipulation) from the situation and lays it before God.

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