S208P3 – A new family: the rules of engagement

Mt. 18:15‭-‬17

Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

He knew the rules his parents had taught him, and he often found it difficult to navigate relationships with those in the world while following their instruction.  Like any Christian, he wanted to fulfill his duty of reaching the lost for Christ, but he could not be friends with the world.  He was told that there simply is a line he could not cross.  His goal was to influence the world, but there comes a time when that work must be abandoned.  Once the tables were turned, and the world he tried to reach began to influence and change him instead, he would have to cut ties.  What he never expected was that a brother or sister would try to get between him and God in the same way.

This passage is about division.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we can succeed only when we are united.  That is not merely a suggestion but a command from the Father.  Our unity is necessary, and that is why it is such a big deal when one of us decides not to follow what the Lord commands.  Going our own way will create a division that cannot be tolerated in the Church if she wants to see victory.  When we survey our lives, individually and corporately, we must discern the people and things that work against our corporate unity.  We cannot afford to keep with us that which divides us from the brethren or from God, especially when the source of division comes from within the Church. 

We already have the enemy army and the world trying to divide and conquer us.  We do not need that threat coming from within our own ranks, and there is a protocol for handling such dissension.  God is gracious, and his method has restoration and repentance as its goals, but there is a limit.  At some point, when a child of God rejects restoration to the Church or even denies the very need for restoration, that person has assumed the role of the world.  Our relationships with those who behave this way must change if we want to preserve our unity.  Father, give us the desire to remain united and the discernment to spot dissension in the Church.