Sermons

Summary: Is it really necessary, all this honesty with other people?

Jesus said, “I am the…truth….” This is truth with a capital T. [1] And if we subscribe to that, Paul’s follow-up text in Ephesians 4:25, to speak that “capital-T” kind of truth to each other, cannot be ignored.

Truth spoken is often confrontational. The very word “confront” comes from both French and Latin – “border” or “boundary”. To confront is to come to the boundary of each other’s thoughts. That can set up conflict!

A confrontation happened between a young boy and his mother. The mother asked her son, "Young man, there were two cookies in the pantry this morning! May I ask how it happened that there’s only one now?" The boy didn’t flinch but said, "It must’ve been so dark I didn’t see the other one." [2]

Just hearing the word “confrontation” it’s easy to get the picture of people squaring-off for a fight or argument. But that is not the Christian image of confrontation.

Fights and arguments arise (as we saw in last week’s message on anger) because our pride becomes offended and wants to strike back – to plan and execute revenge. God has forbidden that, saying that vengeance belongs only to God!

Christian Confrontation

The Christian concept of confrontation (speaking the truth in love [3]) is for mature believers who refuse to let anger win the day. They see to it that forgiveness prevails; they work to reconcile relationships rather than see them wrecked! Sometimes that means confrontation. It is sometimes messy, sometimes rejected, and almost always painful – but it is God’s way.

Jesus showed us this with his life. Note these moments with Jesus:

• A self righteous religious leader (Pharisee, Luke 7) tried to diss Jesus for eating with sinners; Jesus confronted the man’s attitude by telling him a story about two debtors. The first man owed a huge sum. Not being able to pay, the creditor forgave him the entire amount. The man then went out and found the second man who owed him just a small sum. When he couldn’t pay, the man who’d been forgiven a king’s ransom tried to choke him and have him put in jail.

• A woman was caught in the very act of adultery (Luke 8). Again, self-righteous religious leaders brought her to Jesus. They wanted to execute her by stoning. Jesus simply confronted them with their own sin by asking the one who was without sin to throw the first stone.

• A rich young man, who was also a religious leader, pillar-of-the- community-type, wanted Jesus to pat him on the back for living such a fine life. Jesus confronted the man with how his heart was tied to his money. His love of money, position and power had so weighed him down, he’d never make heaven unless he gave it all away.

• Money changers in the temple were openly and unashamedly robbing poor people blind in the name of serving God. Jesus’ confrontation was not a pretty sight – he threw their tables around the courtyard like feathers in a storm, and ran them out of the temple with a whip!

We’re Not Jesus

Now, we’re not Jesus, and so we don’t have the special insight that he had. So Jesus left us some really easy directions about confrontation:

23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23-24 (NRSV)

Jesus gave us this picture of a man about to give his offering in worship. He recalls that there’s a problem with a fellow believer. He’s saying that the first order of “business” is always reconciliation, and it means we have to be proactive with confrontation. Jesus instructed, Drop everything – go get it straight – then come back and worship. That’s Christian confrontation – bringing the problem out into the open for the purpose of reconciliation – restoring relationship!

We Are One

In our text Paul says that we are “members” of one another. The word “member” is melos, and it means “a limb”. To say we’re as close as family misses the mark by a country mile; Paul wants us to know we’re part of the same body!

If I see my brother or sister in Christ stumble, and I don’t confront that “melos” (part) of my own body, I am not much of a part of that body; I’m acting like I don’t care. What’s worse, by my lack of confrontation I’m condoning behavior that shames Christ. We shrink from the confrontation because it’s messy and uncomfortable, but too many churches have diseased bodies because nobody wants to do the confrontation that is healing. We’d rather have the witness of Christ in a community be tarnished than take the chance of offending someone!

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