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Repairing Broken Relationships
As far as I can remember, the 4-step solution to repairing broken relationships found in Matthew 18 is the only time Jesus gave such an easy to understand outline for resolving a problem. (If you are like me, such a statement will cause you to quickly think over all of Jesus teachings to see if you can come up an exception. . . . I’ll wait for you before I continue. . . . all done? Then let us proceed.) Jesus, and the News Testament writers, tend to deal more with principles than step by step procedures. That makes this teaching an exception to the norm. This is written as if Jesus were answering our objections for not doing what he plainly wants us to do when we are offended or hurt by a brother or sister.
Jesus: If your brother or sister sins against you go and show them their fault, just between the two of you, alone.
Us: But what if they don’t listen to us?
Jesus: Then take a mature brother or sister with you to see if they can help.
Us: But what it they continue to rationalize and refuse to listen to either of us?
Jesus: Then get the church involved. Gather those who truly love this person and all of you work together to help them.
Us: But what if that doesn’t work? What if they refuse to accept what all of us are saying?
Jesus: Then there is nothing anyone can do for that person. They are not my disciple and should not be considered one. Any other questions?
Us: Uh, no I can’t think of any.
Jesus: Then prove that you are my disciple by following my commandments. If your brother of sister sins against you go and show them their fault, just between the two of you, alone. Got it?
Us: But that sounds kind of hard.
Jesus: Where did you ever get the idea that following me would be easy? Be obedient to me and see if the end result isn’t a community of people with deeper and more satisfying relationships than anyone else on earth has ever experienced. Trust me in this and put your faith into action!