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Mt 18:15-20 · Ro 13:8-14 · Ex 12:1-14 · Ps 149
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When Christians Quarrel: Resolving Conflict in the Church
Matthew 18: 15-20


One of the things I like best about the New Testament is that it is so practical. It must have been the fact that Jesus had human beings called disciples always with him that forced him to speak in such everyday terms about everyday problems. Sometimes Christians disagree in the congregation of believers. Sometimes they quarrel. Sometimes they hold grudges against each other. The Scripture for today says that we must never tolerate any situation in which there is a breach of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community.

In this eighteenth chapter of Matthew Jesus admits that disciples are going to have conflicts; but they are to resolve them.

It is very true today that the behavior of us church members on this very issue makes Christianity to the outside world either repulsive or attractive.

It isn't a matter that Christians are perfect and will not have conflicts. There will always be quarrels, differences of opinion on how and who, disappointments with preachers and councils, hurt feelings, bent pride, loss of face, and lots of mistakes. It's the idea that Christians can resolve these conflicts as no other fellowship can, that Jesus puts before us today.

Comus, a Duke of Florence, had a saying that indicated the limitations of his religion: "You shall read that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends."

That can happen in the Christian proclamation of the gospel. We spend a lot of time in our pulpits talking about how Christians are admonished by Jesus Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their enemies. When in actuality, right there in the pew side by side are Christians who hold grudges, hang on to petty hurts, refuse to forgive and love each other within the fellowship. And when they do this, church and Christianity and the whole practice of religion for them is not the joyful experience it ought to be. They miss a large dimension of belonging to God's family.

This particular portion of Matthew (18:15-18) gives us a whole scheme of action for the mending of broken relationships within our "family of God" called the Christian fellowship...

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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

The "Ice­Bucket Challenge"

Romans 13:8­14

Anyone remember playing "tag?" The worst thing that could happen to you when you were playing "tag," was to be touched and declared ... "Tag! You're it!" Once you were "tagged" you were the odd one out. Once you were tagged you were the enemy, the outcast, the outlier, and you worked hard to get that moniker off your back by giving it to someone else.

How times have changed. Now to be "tagged" is to be one of the elect: to be included, to be part of a movement, to be involved in something larger and more important than your own email register. To get "tagged" is to be drawn into a new community with distinctive concerns and a unique consciousness. To be "tagged" means that you have been chosen to participate in a larger experience of life.

This week's Roman's text is all about being "tagged." As Christians, as those who are participants in a unique community called the body of Christ which is defined by a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son and our Savior, we are totally "tagged" by a divine challenge. Christians are not defined by their ability to dump icy water over their heads. Christians are known by their ability to dump love over all those they bump into. When you are "tagged" by Christ's love, you are called to "tag" all those you can with that same amazing, transforming, overwhelming love...

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