Family

Family
Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pentecost 13: Church Wars

Today, I am plain and simply going to let the Word be the word, let the Word be the sermon, let the Word be the teaching.

Here is our Gospel Word set for this Sunday:
These are the very words of Christ, do they have authority over you?

 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they 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 they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Next week we will read the verses that follow that have Peter asking how many times He must forgive someone who sins against him, but more of that next week. For now it is important to note the context in which Jesus says: Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.....Jesus speaks these words in the context of the person, or a few people, dealing with the sin of another person in the fellowship. Then He goes on, in the same context, and says Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.....Jesus saying here that when you, or later when two or three of you point out another person's sin, I am in the midst of you, I am in the midst of that, because that is where I very especially want to be. And that's when Peter interjects, because it's all the same context, and says: "Hang on Lord, how many times must I forgive?"...but that we look at next week. For now please notice that all these things are said in the context of dealing with sin and the conflict that inevitably flows from it. Jesus says...in the church, you tell someone when they sin against you, when they hurt you, when you disagree with them...you tell them, and you tell them first, before you tell anyone else.
This is the command of Christ, does it authority in your life?

You see, Jesus knew there would be lots of conflict in the church that He was calling into being and He wanted to be sure they dealt with it in the Kingdom way, that results in growth and reconciliation, rather than the satanic way, which results in the opposite.
He knew there would be conflict in the church, and the rest of the New Testament confirms this truth:
I said I'd let the Word be the word, so here are just a few examples of church conflict, or, my title today
Paul Opposes Peter
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (Galatians 2: 11‑14)
Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Bamabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Bamabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. (Acts 15:35‑37)
A dispute between two groups in the church
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly. (Acts 6:1‑7)
A dispute between two church members
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2‑3)
A Church Divided Over Leaders
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10‑13)
Paul Opposes Peter, Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas, A dispute between two groups in the church, A dispute between two church members, A Church Divided Over Leaders.....there is nothing new under the sun is there? 
And so Jesus says:
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they 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 they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector

Don't let it fester...it will destroy you and rot from within, the church.
John Wesley had these words for the people called Methodist:

Speak evil of no one, else your word especially would eat as doth a cancer. Keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.
Tell everyone what you think wrong in them, and that plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste, therefore, to cast the fire out of your bosom.

Is there someone who has sinned against you, there actions have wronged you, hurt you. Satan's temptation is this: Don't go and tell them....rather go and tell everyone else...gossip about them, malign them....but don't go and tell them. In fact, stay away from them, move away from them, do everything except be reconciled to them. He might even say, because he's very good at (incorrectly)quoting Jesus, "Jesus said you mustn't judge others".
Did He?.....or did He actually (in context) say "Don't think you can run around judging everybody....be warned, if you do,by the same standard you judge others, I'll judge you."
Did He say "don't judge others" or did He say "before you judge others, make sure you've first judged yourself, taken the log out of your own eye, then...yes, then...you can take the splinter out of somebody else's eye."

So Satan will tell you the opposite of what Christ does (exactly the same way he tempted Eve, twisting God's Word), but Jesus Christ says:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.

Chris and I are committed to the ministry of reconciliation. Many of you know this. Some of you have been very frustrated by this as we refuse to let you talk to us about what's wrong with other people if you refuse to go and tell them. We have offended some of you when we've said "Don't boast about what you should be ashamed of" when you've told us how you haven't spoken to so and so since they did or said such and such.
There is no room for these things in the fellowship that bares the name of Christ and that accepts His word as authoritative.

I believe there is a lot of hurt, pain, anger, bitterness, resentment in many of our lives here this morning. As an aid, I've prepared some devotional reading for the week ahead which explores this all in a lot more depth and I ask you to please use it because I know the Spirit led change for good that can come about if a few hundred of us come under the authority of this word from Christ.......but, first go home, read, meditate, seek God's guidance regarding exactly who first, and when, and where....because this must come from the heart, not the head.

I close with our reading from Romans and then with the words of Christ, as I seek to let the Word be the word for today:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they 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 they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector






No comments: