Earlier in chapter 18, Jesus is talking about the joy of recovering those who stray from the flock. Now, he's talking about the difficulty of living with those who don't leave. "Here's what you can expect: some church members are going to treat you badly. Don't ignore the problem. Even if you are not at fault, you still have the responsibility to mend the relationship."
Here's the hard part. Start by going directly to the offender. Don't go around telling everybody else how much you are hurt. First, tell the one who hurt you.
Then, if that doesn't work, and only if that doesn't work, share your concerns with a couple of other church members. If that doesn't work, and only if that doesn't work, then you may tell others in the church about the problem.
If the offender won't listen to the whole church, then treat that person like a Gentile and a tax collector.
Notice the irony in this last instruction by remembering how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors.
December 8, 2013 – Second Sunday of Advent Holy God, through your prophets you have promised us a world where justice and mercy would reign, where knowledge and understanding would prevail, and where the poor and the weak would be the recipients of compassion and not scorn. You sent Christ to give us the vision of this kind of Kingdom, then gave us the Holy Spirit within us that we might work to make a way for it in our world. As we give our gifts this morning, may you dedicate them and us to help bring about a world where your love, mercy, and grace reign supreme. We pray this in the name that is above all others, Jesus the Christ. Amen.(Isaiah 11:1-10.)
written by Ken Sloan.
"Copyright General Board of Discipleship. www.GBOD.org Used by permission."