Summary: A 3 part series designed to help people work through conflict. part 3 of 3.

Matthew 18:15-20

Shining Shoes for Christ

When Brennan Manning, an evangelical Catholic, was waiting to catch a plane in the Atlanta airport, he sat down in one of the many places where usually black men shine white men’s shoes. And an elderly black man began to shine Brennan’s shoes. And Brennan had this feeling inside that after he was done, he should pay him and tip him and then reverse the roles.

When he was finished, he stood up and looked at the black man and said, "Now, sir, I would like to shine your shoes." And the black man recoiled and stepped back and said, "You’re going to do what?" Manning said, "I’d like to shine your shoes. Come on. You sit down here. How would you like them done?" And the black man began to cry, and he said, "No white man ever talked to me like this before." And the story ends with the white Catholic with arms around a black Atlanta man, and they’ve only just met, tears flowing, reconciliation taking place. -- Brian Buhler, "The Ultimate Community," Preaching Today, Tape No. 146.

What an amazing story. When reconciliation happens, life is returned to the individual. Have you experienced reconciliation in your life? Not only have you experienced reconciliation, but have you experienced the joy, the exhiliration of being reconciled to someone who was against you and you were against them?

Our vision for reconciliation comes from the reconciling work that Jesus did for us on the cross. His death leads us into a new relationship with God. We become adopted children of the King, the Wonderful Lord, we are His and He is ours.

Reconciliation within the church is something to strive for. Because when we reconcile with one another, those small moments in time are really “Jesus Moments.” They are times when we are making the love of Jesus a reality. It’s not always easy to do. Sometimes we have a difficult time coming up to another person and saying, “Hey, would you forgive me.”

When I was in junior high my dad had a poster he cut out of a magazine. It had the most important sentence with one word, the least important sentence with one word, up to the most important sentence with six words. By the way, the most important one word sentence was “WE”, while the least important was “I”. But the sentence with the 6 most important words was “I ADMIT I MADE A MISTAKE.” It’s not easy to admit, but that is where humility comes in. Can you admit, even to those who seem to be against you, ‘I’m sorry, I made a mistake, would you forgive me?’

Yet, why do those outside of the church label us as a place filled with angry unforgiving people. Why are there sayings like, ‘if you’re feeling bad, don’t go to the church, they’ll only make it worse?’ Or ‘The church shoots its own wounded.’

Why is it that we are supposed to be a people who are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are supposed to be people who have experienced the greatest gift ever, the gift of life, joy, grace and forgiveness through Jesus, yet we do not offer that same grace to others?

Why is it we don’t look for the good things about people, the positive attributes; but we seek to tear down, instead of building up. The church is supposed to be a place of encouragement, but is it? Now I’m talking about the church universal and I am also talking about our church.

Hebrews 3:13 — “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

If we believe in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit dwells in us, then we should be filled with the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are ~~ “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness & self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

I don’t see bitterness and complaining in that list. Maybe it’s a matter of us really, really accepting the Holy Spirit. Nothing can change us like the Holy Spirit, so as we begin this last section of Matthew 18:15, let me ask you . . . Is the Spirit of God alive in you or have you killed the Spirit?

I had this on my heart, and it’s been weighing me down all week. I am not here to condemn anyone, but to push us to the next level of our walk with Christ.

For the past 2 weeks we were looking at what to do if we have a conflict with someone else, whether it is a sin issue or just a matter of disagreement. We know we are to go to that person and only that person first. The Bible is clear on that issue.

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