Matthew 18 15 – 20
Jesus said to his disciples. “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him – work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend..
If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to be good – his ambition for us goes beyond all that – he wants us to be ‘perfect’ (a bad translation – more likely meaning mature or adult). We should not need to be liked to like; we should not need to be loved to love; we should not need our own need to be fulfilled before we recognise that others have needs. In particular it should not matter who the others are because we know who we are – beloved children of God.
It is this confidence in God’s Love that Jesus tries to instil in us – the confidence that he has in his Father, that allows him to call, with joyful expectation, on the grace and healing that is then gifted to anyone who asks – all strangers, many enemies, honest and dishonest people alike. The world we know is fragmented and hurting. Anger and violence have proved that they are not the answer. It’s a tough challenge to look into your enemy’s eyes and ask for reconciliation. Where else is there to go if not to talk about it and pray about it?