Changing the Way We Read Matthew 18.
I did a bit of Googling last week.
You see, our church is going through a series in the Gospel of Matthew. This past Sunday, we hit Matthew 18. So I did what any good pastor would do; I Googled!
I Googled “Matthew 18“.
First off, I found a number of trailers for a new horror movie that’s coming out. Pretty sure the movie will be terrifying, because the trailers scared me bad enough.
But then I started to find what I was looking for. Articles written by pastors and church leaders, with a variety of titles, all associated with Matthew 18. (Specifically, verse 15-20)
I’d like to share a few of these titles.
To begin with, some titles point to Christ as the author.
- “The Lord’s Conflict Resolution Plan”
- “Jesus’ Plan for Resolving Conflict”
Then there were witty how-to titles.
- “What To Do If Someone Sins Against You”
- “How Should Christians Handle Disputes?”
Others had attention-grabbing titles.
- “Seeking the Lost through Church Discipline”
- “Dealing with Sinning Christians”
Lastly, there was a straight to the point title.
- “Conflict Resolution In the Body of Christ”
The Relationship Between Matthew 18 and the Church
For those of us who have spent a significant amount of time in the church, hearing the words “Matthew 18” usually sends us into either fight or flight mode. Especially if we’ve ever served in a leadership position.
Typically when someone begins a conversation that includes the words “Matthew 18”, it means we’re going to experiencing an uncomfortable discussion. It may be with one person or a few people, but it’s not going to be fun.
Why is Matthew 18 connected with conflict?
Like the above articles point out, too often in the church, we connect the words, “Matthew 18” with conflict or discipline. And I get it, this is a reality of church life, but I think there’s so much more to this passage of Scripture.
And so last week, after praying about it, reading over a number of other passages and commentaries, God brought me to a realisation.
Matthew 18 is about relationships.
I feel like God is calling us to change our perspective on Matthew 18. I believe that this chapter of Matthew’s Gospel can and should be one of the most unifying passages in Scripture.
As I studied, I felt like God was showing me that Matthew 18 doesn’t have to have titles about conflict or discipline. Instead we can create titles centred around relationships.
Matthew 18 shows us that earthly relationships matter.
What I mean is, that simply having a good relationship with Jesus is not enough. Jesus started the church for a reason. The Bible refers to us as brothers and sisters for a reason.
Our earthly relationships are important to the Lord. They matter not just in the here and now; but our earthly relationships matter in the heavenly realm as well.
God is very concerned with our earthly relationships.
This week, we’ll be exploring Matthew chapter 18 and hopefully, changing our perspectives on church conflict and discipline.
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Did you grow up in the church? If so, what’s your experience conflict in the church and the principles found in Matthew 18?