“If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. (Matt. 18:15-17)
Jesus is quite clear: if your brother sins against you there are three steps you must follow in order to bring about reconciliation or at least, a solution to the problem of interpersonal relations gone awry. First, talk about it privately. This is critical. The offended believer must take the initiative and go to the offender and explain the problem. If this is not done; if the problem is handled in some other way, reconciliation will NEVER occur. Second, if there is no resolution, then ask two or three trusted persons to go with you to talk to the other, in Christian love. But if the offender refuses to repent, then the matter is to be taken to the whole church so that the sinful act becomes public knowledge. If no repentance is forthcoming, the offender should be treated as though an unbeliever: with love, and Gospel caring- but as an outsider to the faith.
Every interpersonal problem in every Church can be solved if these three steps are followed because the sinful deed is either repented of or the sinful actor is treated as an unbeliever. Where these steps are not followed, sin attaches itself and more problems erupt.
The Church, by and large, has not followed these procedures and as a consequence Churches across this country are immobilized by more and more sinful behavior.
Jesus, you see, has standards. And the Church must strive to meet them, or it becomes something other than a Church. And there are already too many ‘other-than-Church’ churches in this world. Don’t let yours be one of them. Heed Jesus, the Lord of the Church.