Dear Church Family,
The Church is all about relationships. It is primarily about our relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ which makes us part of the church. It is also about our relationships with one another. Throughout the New Testament the church is described as a family. One of the reasons is because everyone understands what a family is to some degree. Most everyone recognizes that any healthy family requires love, order, leadership, truth, kindness, communication, accountability, repentance, forgiveness, and teachableness. We all know that all families experience conflict and the healthy ones are able to work through conflict and achieve reconciliation.
Every healthy family has experienced hard conversations where one member had to confront another member. This could be a parent confronting a child or a sister confronting a brother. Every married couple has had to walk through conflict that was caused when one spouse wronged another. As these confrontations take place the only way that the relationship continues to grow is if there is reconciliation.
Reconciliation requires the one who has done something wrong to seek forgiveness from the one who was wronged. Therefore, reconciliation requires humble action on both sides because on the one hand there is repentance and on the other hand there is a willingness to forgive. However, if either one refuses to humble themselves then reconciliation cannot happen. We have all experienced conflict in our families and many of us have seen reconciliation take place. We all know that reconciliation doesn’t occur when sin is ignored or swept under the rug. True reconciliation occurs when there is repentance and forgiveness.
What about the church? The biblical writers refer to the church as a family. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible gives us clear guidance as to how we ought to treat one another. The Bible also gives us clear guidance as to how we ought to seek reconciliation. Consider these words of Jesus found in Matthew 18:15-17:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen to even the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Consider the words of the Apostle Paul found in Titus 3:10-11:
“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
The words are very strong and they are strong for a reason. For a church to be healthy it must stand firm on the Word of God. The Bible tells us who God is and what he expects of His people. One of the most loving actions a church can take is to be honest about sin. This means that if one of the members of the church is clearly in sin then the most loving action a Christian can take is to talk to that person about the sin in the hope of seeing that person turn from their sin to Christ.
In our culture today you are condemned if you tell anyone that he is wrong or in sin. That is where the culture is and unfortunately that is where many churches are as well. If we are going to be a healthy church we must submit ourselves not to our culture, or our feelings, or our traditions but to the Word of God. If we fail to listen to God’s Word we cannot expect God to bless our efforts or make us fruitful in the mission He has given us. As we move forward as a church, my prayer is that any fractured relationships within the church will experience reconciliation. My prayer is that we will be obedient to the Word of God and that we will be willing pray Psalm 139:23-24 which says,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Pastor Ron Jones