15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16 But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.[b] 17 But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. 18 I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. 19 Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” Matthew 18:15-20, CEB
It’s political season. Let’s get into it a little bit.
I’ve been noticing for quite a while now that whenever Christians have a conflict, the first thing to get thrown away is charity. What I mean when I say “charity” is the ability to treat each other kindly, with gentleness, and a sense of mutual respect. I have seen this occur on a number of stages this week. The Christian blogosphere is always ablaze during political season. A conservative Christian blogger will trash a liberal one, and vice versa. Yesterday I listened as a close friend described a variety of ways in which his coworkers declined to treat him with even a minimal level of respect. I’ve encountered it in my own life where I can tell, at times, when someone is upset with me but has declined to say why and, instead, has treated me with contempt.
Last month we did a series of devotionals on reconciliation. Most of these were on a conceptual level. They talked in very general terms about reconciliation. I’ll get a little more specific here today. The bedrock of living in reconciliatory ways is charity. In order to live in community we must be able to push resentments aside in favor of charity until a problem is addressed. I regularly have to address problems with the people closest to me: Mom, Dad, Brittany, Linda, and more. And I’m almost always at fault. While one of my shortcomings is that I make many mistakes, one of my strengths is that I’m willing to take ownership over it. These four people I mentioned have always treated me with dignity and mutual respect. I believe they have shown me exactly what it looks like to live out the attitudes described in Matthew 18. I’m very grateful for what they’ve taught me and I think the Church in our country, in general, could learn an incredibly valuable lesson from their example.