Peace making – notes from this evening’s sermon

The text was from Matthew:

5:9 Blessed are the peace makers

5:23-26 If you bring an offering to the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, go and talk to your brother and try to make peace with him. I’d never noticed that this bit is about your brother having something against you and not the other way round! and the preacher pointed out that this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong – we sometimes step on people’s toes by accident, or we say something and someone gets the wrong end of the stick, or whatever, so this isn’t just in cases where we’re at fault.

18:15-20 If your brother sins – so here it is the other person who is at fault – go and talk to him in private, with the intention of making peace. No, it doesn’t say you should ask other people if they’ve had a similar experience with this person; or that you should post about it on facebook; or… no, it says you should go and talk to this person in private. The ideal outcome for both of you is making peace privately and not bringing a whole load of other people into it.

If that doesn’t work, get one or two people to come along. Not so that you can all gang up on him and yell at him that he’s wrong – no, you take a couple of people with you in the hope that they can help you make peace. Maybe they can help explain things better. Maybe they can help the two of you communicate and understand each other better. No, it doesn’t say: get the pastor to come along and talk some sense into your brother. It’s not about figures of authority, just ordinary people.

And if that doesn’t work, tell the church – not the pastor, the church. That means the congregation, the bunch of people you’re part of. If he won’t listen to the congregation, then treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector – the preacher said this is because by refusing to listen to the church, this brother has shown that he isn’t really saved, so you can’t count him as though he is part of the church.

One thing I find a bit odd here is that Jesus is talking about the church when the church didn’t exist yet. I wonder how his hearers understood it at the time. (The preacher said that this is one of the only two places where Jesus mentions the church [ecclesia], the other being when he talked about building his church – that conversation when Peter acknowledged who Jesus was and there’s that stuff about rocks and pebbles and so on.)

I felt encouraged by this preacher saying that he has personally had lots of really positive experience of following the Matthew 18 guidelines. And he reminded us that doing so, though we can feel uncomfortable as it makes us very vulnerable, is about obeying Jesus. And he reminded us of what Jesus said about the foolish man and the wise man – do we want to build our house on the rock, obeying Jesus’ teachings, or do we want to build it on the sand of our own human inclinations?

I just wanted to write this stuff down whilst it’s fresh in my mind. Not attempting to form it into anything other than rough notes, just leaving it as it is.


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