Making the tough call


16 August 2017

In the Gospel today, Jesus discuses with his disciples the correct way of dealing with misconduct in the Church.

We are presented with a definite structure for dealing with unacceptable behaviour, however Jesus, as He always does, set this within the context of unbounded forgiveness.

When you see sin or damaging behaviour in someone else’s life, how do you know when to keep quiet and when to speak with them? Jesus is clear. Where there is sin, confront it directly, one-to-one, face-to-face.

Like many people, I dislike confrontation, and sometimes go to extreme lengths to avoid it. Regardless of our reluctance to confront sin in our brother or sister, at times it is necessary to have that tough, cards-on-the-table talk.

Jesus then says; if this doesn’t work bring it to communal attention. Being members of the Church means that you and I have a responsibility. If your sheep gets lost you don’t look for an hour and call it quits. You get out there and find that sheep.

If your brother sins against you seventy-seven times you forgive him seventy-seven times – but don’t ignore the sin.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking…”I have a log in my own eye, what right do I have to admonish someone else” The truth of the matter is that the tensions and trials which arise from the sins we commit against one another have an impact not just on individual relationships, but also on the community as a whole. At stake in this issue of sin, confrontation, repentance and forgiveness is the presence of God and what it means for us.

The church is committed to practicing the “surpassing righteousness of the kingdom”. We are members of the Church – you and me – so we cannot turn a blind eye. What great evils might have been avoided in the life of our Church if more men and women had follows Jesus’ instruction?

Our goal is to “win” our brother or sister – to help them back in communion with Christ. Not to gossip, nor to gain any sense of satisfaction through their sin. There is no space in this to elevate ourselves.

At times, we can get frustrated with the humanity of the Church. But Jesus promises us that He is present when we are gathered in His name.