The Principles of Reconciliation (02): Causes and Effects

Date: 10/3/2010
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Price: FREE

The Principles of Reconciliation (02): Causes and Effects

Matthew 18:1–18:35 -  18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” . . . 18:14 “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 18:16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 18:17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. . . 18:35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

The Reason Behind Broken Relationships - This chapter provides several teachings relating to reconciliation and it is important to see how this topic arises. The question to begin this conversation is, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus’s response is that “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The reason behind relational breaches is pride. Schisms, infighting and falling out with others can all be averted with humility. Your greatest position of spiritual power and authority comes ironically from being the most humble.

The Resulting Effect of Broken Relationships - Jesus emphasizes humility and the peace of the “little ones” in the kingdom as the prelude to the process of church discipline and the “Seventy Times Seven” parable of forgiveness. He warns in the most extreme imagery against “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble” (skandalon). Pride which breaks the bonds of love scandalizes littles ones (whether literal children or new believers). The resulting effect of prideful breaches of peace is that little ones are lost to the kingdom. Your pride converted into irreconcilable differences may trip up someone so that they stumble into hell.

The Routine of Mending Broken Relationships - Jesus augments the Law’s process of judgment which simply required that guilt be demonstrated by two or more witnesses, then judgment could be rendered (Dt. 19:15). The administration of justice is not the only concern in the new covenant church. Rather, we are to seek private reconciliation first, rather than have “our day in court” (Mt. 5:23-26). The routine or process Jesus commands starts with this goal, “go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Through the process of multiple confrontations one after the other increasing the community’s involvement reconciliation is being pursued. The process also builds into itself a self-correction to confirm the facts, as well as the state of heart of the accused. Finally, “if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” You should still remain in a posture of forgiveness, longing for reconciliation, even toward one who is ultimately “put out of the church.”
 

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more