Sunday, June 28, 2015

Imagine Christian Unity

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
On Matthew 18:25-33, with Colossians 3:12-14

Last week: discipleship is important. Take care of the young/weak.
Relationship with community is important, and so is individual (99 sheep)
• This week: relationship among all believers is important.
Pretty long set of instructions: if your brother* sins against you
(*brother = fellow believer. Insider.)
- go to your brother one on one; 
to convince, convict, demonstrate wrong.
If you convince brother, you have regained brother.
If not,
- confront brother with other believers (3:1);
(recall: this is among believers!)
(and if he refuses to hear)
(by the way, how often do people refuse to listen?)
(we should practice hearing… listen intentionally)
- confront brother within church community…
And then treat as outsider. Gentile. Tax collector.
• This week much division among brothers: 3 or 4 major social / political events…
- Charleston SC church shooting… 
led to week of controversy over Confederate flag…
- Thursday Affordable Care Act upheld by SCOTUS
- Friday Marriage Equality upheld by SCOTUS
There have been celebrations and lamentations, 
inside/outside church.
• Christians don’t know how to disagree within church…
(demonstration with Marshall fans v. WVU fans)
What is the quintessential story of Jew and Gentile? 
Who is my neighbor? Good Samaritan.
Go out of your way to assist!
Can you imagine? Going out of your way to assist your opponent? Esp w/in church?

• Christians don’t know how to disagree within church…
Christians don’t know how to represent within society.
• Imagine that whatever the event,
Society saw the church unified, hand in hand.
• John Wesley: Though we cannot think alike, 
may we not love alike?
May we not be of one heart, 
though we are not of one opinion?
In essentials, unity. 
In non-essentials, liberty. 
In all things, charity.

• Hymn 389 Freely, Freely

 Colossians 3:12-14
12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Matthew 18:15-22       (CEB)
15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16 But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. [Deut. 19:15] 
17 But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church.
If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector.
 18 I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven.
And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.
 19 Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”
21 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?”

22 Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.”

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