Summary: Part 2 of the series dealing with conflict in the Church.
Working It Out Jesus’ Way (Part 2)
July 1, 2007
NOTE: PORTIONS OF THIS MESSAGE BASED ON THE BOOK, “THE 10 DUMBEST THINGS CHRISTIANS DO,” BY MARK ATTEBERRY
Last week I mentioned that I’m a conflict-avoider. I don’t like conflict, and I’d be thrilled if I never had to mess with it again, ever in my lifetime.
Well, that hasn’t changed in the last week.
If anything, as I’ve worked on this message and next week’s, I found myself going over some of the conflict situations I’ve found myself in, even over the last year or so.
And I lose my appetite.
I wonder if maybe many of you feel the same way.
I’m not sure I know anybody who just looks to pick a fight among fellow believers for the sake of destroying fellowship with them.
If that were the case, I would honestly have to wonder if they really know Jesus at all.
But if I could show you a way that, if handled correctly and in the right spirit, would lessen the negative impacts of conflict in the church between believers, and could actually have a positive impact on those involved, would you like to know about it?
That’s my goal for today.
I want to show you a way to address conflict in the church that if handled correctly and in the right spirit, can bring healing and restoration for those involved, and glory to Jesus.
A way that can make it less likely for you to have to reach for something to kill the indigestion that can come with conflict.
Once again, we look to the words of Jesus, because as we established last week, Jesus owns the Church, and He’s the best one to tell us how things should be done regarding it.
Matthew 18:15-20 (starts on p. 695) –
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.
Last week the point I tried to hammer home was the idea that personal conflict needs to be taken care of between the individuals whenever possible, and that to talk about the person instead of to the person was the wrong way to go about it.
In fact, I said –
If you haven’t talked the offender, it’s sin to talk to anyone else.
It’s a sin because Jesus says we’re supposed to go that person.
And by the way, I think this includes situations where a person may not be sinning against you personally, but may be living a lifestyle that is sinful according to Scripture.
Let’s say you know someone in an adulterous relationship. They may not be sinning against you, but they need to be confronted about it, because the Bible demands that we address it.
But what happens when you’ve approached the person, you’ve shown them their sin, and they refuse to acknowledge and turn away from it and they refuse correction and restoration?
Well, assuming you approached the person in humility, seeking to restore them instead of beat them down, you have more options.
But as I said last week, if people would actually follow what Jesus says in verse 15, there would be very little need for verses 16-20.
Verses 16-20 delve into an area that few churches are brave enough to actually deal with: the area of church discipline.
This is an area where Jesus gives the church and its leaders authority over the people who make up the church, and commands them to act on His behalf toward a sinning member of that community.
Persons subject to church discipline obviously don’t enjoy it, and it can cause not only hard feelings, it can result in a person being removed from the local church until they repent.
And if the person being disciplined is a board member’s daughter or a big giver in the church, the fallout can be pretty massive.
So you can see why churches and pastors are reluctant to move forward, in spite of the fact that Jesus says it’s the best way – both for the church and for the individual involved in the sinful action.
But why is it the best way? Well, let’s work our way through this passage, and I’d like to look at five reasons that I can see why working it out Jesus’ way is the best way for all involved.
1. Handled correctly, church discipline weeds out the truth of the matter.
Verse 16 –
“16 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.”
The idea is that you contact some people to be witnesses when you confront the person this second time in a private setting.