There are times when disciples fall away from the church for all kinds of reasons and often it is too late because they had not drawn into their lives proper accountability partners to help them from falling. Jesus has something to say about this:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18 v 15-17)
In some translations such as KJV and the ESV they have the words, ‘if your brother or sister sins against you’. The ‘little ones’ are now ‘brother or sister’, members of your community and Jesus has in mind the ‘church’ which is the second time he mentions it.
Some in the church love these translations of the verse and quote it often as they storm off to confront a brother about the hurt they have caused them.
This has nothing to do with getting even nor about someone dealing with their hurt or anger.
This is all about reconciliation back into the community of believers.
This is all about taking responsibility for each other.
This is all about spurring one another on, iron sharpening iron, accountability and making sure disciples don’t fall away.
There are 4 strands:
- Personal confrontation and to be done in private because ultimately you want your ‘brother or sister’ to be reconciled to God without anyone else knowing their sin.
- Go again if there is no change and this time take a few members of the community of believers with you.
- If there is no change let the church know. In the time of Jesus he is probably not thinking of 100 people sat in pews listening to the preacher denounce someone for sinning but rather smaller groups.
- If there is no change then let them go and treat them as unbelievers. This means to urgently and prayerfully seek for their salvation and to see them not as disciples with their responsibilities and privileges within the church.
May the Disciples of Christ remain in position! That must be our prayer and focus of activity. This is not about what to do if you get your feelings hurt but rather about making sure no more fall away.