Summary: Like instruments in an orchestra playing the same piece of music, so should all the members of the church and when the church is out of tune, it can get ugly. Four ways Jesus tells us we can tune up our lives.
I really enjoy listening to a great symphony orchestra performing classical music. One of my favorite composers is Johann Sebastian Bach. His most famous composition was “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Here’s a little bit of trivia about Bach that you might not know. Bach was often so engrossed in composing music that he wouldn’t take time to eat lunch. This wasn’t healthy, so his wife started packing a lunch for him to take to his studio. She would include a sandwich and some fruit. At lunch Bach would stop and eat the sandwich and fruit—so now you know where we got the term Bach’s lunch!
The word “church” is one of the most important words in the New Testament; it appears over 100 times. The Greek word for church is ecclesia, which means literally means, “called out ones.” Here’s a little Bible trivia question for you: How many times does the word “church” appear in the four gospel accounts? If you answered “three” you would be correct. The first time Jesus used the word church was in Matthew 16 when He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” The other two times “church” appears is in our passage today.
I’m calling this message “God’s Beautiful Symphony,” because the Greek word “sum-phoneo” is used in our text today. It’s the word from which we get our English word symphony. The analogy of a symphony is a beautiful picture of the church. In an orchestra, there are many different kinds of instruments playing the same song. In the church of the Lord Jesus there are many different kinds of people, but we should all be playing the same music.
Matthew 18:15-20. “If your brother or sister 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. But 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.’ If he still 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. ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Next Sunday morning, this stage will be filled with an orchestra and the choir loft will be full of singers as our Celebration Choir and Orchestra present “Hope of the World.” Before the orchestra comes on stage, they gather in the orchestra room and Tim will play an F. Each orchestra member tunes his instrument to match that note. Few things are more beautiful than the sounds of a symphony orchestra playing in tune. In contrast, if you hear instruments that aren’t in tune, it sounds like two cats fighting!
The church is like a symphony. When we’re in tune, we make beautiful music together, but when we aren’t, it can get ugly. Let’s notice four different ways in which Jesus tells us how to tune up our lives.
1. GET BACK IN TUNE WITH SOMEONE WHO SINNED AGAINST YOU
When the members of the church are in tune with each other and with the Lord, the result will be a beautiful symphony. But that doesn’t always happen. Jesus knew that there would be conflicts among Christians, that’s why He gave us three simple steps to follow to bring about reconciliation.
Before we examine these three steps, there are several qualifications I need to insert. First, these steps are for believers, brothers and sisters in Christ. Second, these steps are for when another Christian has sinned against you personally, not sin in general. If you have a Christian friend who is heading off into sin, it’s a good idea to lovingly confront them—but that’s just using common sense and uncommon kindness. Jesus isn’t giving you permission to be the moral police and confront every sin you see someone commit. The tense and voice of the verb indicates that these instructions apply when someone sins against you personally. For example, if someone hurts you with harsh angry words, or they lie to you or steal from you, they are sinning against you.
Third, you don’t have to follow these steps if you have the ability to overlook the offense and simply forgive the person. This is not the same as ignoring it or pretending it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean to repress your feelings. It’s the choice to turn the other cheek. Jesus said in Matthew 5:38-41, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other as well.” There’s no thought of revenge or retaliation. Some call this the F.I.D.O. principle: Forget It and Drive On. So you aren’t required to do this in every instance someone offends you.