Avoiding Enmity

2020-09-06 – Year A – Proper 18 – The Rev. Christopher Klukas
Ezekiel 33:1-11; Psalm 119:33-48; Matthew 18:15-20

  • The story of Puma and Adidas
    • Gebrüder Dassler (Geda) a shoe company founded in 1919 by two brothers. The company quickly rose to greatness in 1936 when athletes they had equipped won eleven Olympic medals at the Berlin games.
    • In 1948 the brothers abruptly dissolved the company and founded two competing companies on opposite sides of the river that ran through their German town.
      • Adolf Dassler – Adidas
      • Rudolf Dassler – Puma
    • No one knows what sparked this family feud, not even the Dassler’s grandchildren.
    • Their conflict divided their family and their town. Two separate soccer clubs. They shopped at two different sets of shops. People who worked for one company would not talk to people who worked at the other company.
    • When the brothers died, they were buried at opposite sides of the same town cemetery!
    • This is a dramatic example of something that happens too often in smaller ways.
  • People don’t handle conflict well. Either they take the passive, rumor based approach, or the aggressive argumentative approach. Both end in pain and broken relationships.
  • Cancel Culture, Family estrangement, Leaving a church.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

  • Jesus provides a better way in our Gospel passage this morning.
    • Membership Covenant “8. Practice forgiveness daily according to our Lord’s teaching, and to handle conflict in accordance with Jesus’ teaching in
      Matthew 18:15-17;”
  • If your brother sins against you… (v. 15) – prayerfully consider whether this is a sin or an annoyance or offense. Are they being sinful or am I being sensitive or unreasonable?
    • Membership Covenant “9. Choose to believe the best of my brothers and sisters in Christ, offering them the same charitable assumption I hope to receive from them;”
      • It is easy to misinterpret the words and actions of others. When there is any grey area at all, lean on the positive, charitable interpretation.
  • Go by yourself – don’t start the rumor mill!
    • Make sure you are calm, think about what you will say, don’t let your emotions take over, even if the other person becomes emotional.
    • “Gained your brother.” This is the goal: protecting and preserving relationships and inspiring godliness. Not venting your anger!
  • (v. 16) Take someone with you and try again – don’t start the rumor mill!
    • “Two or three witnesses” – not necessarily witnesses of the sin in question, the person who goes with you is to be a witness to either repentance or hardness of heart if you need to move to the next phase.
  • (v. 17) Tell it to the Church
  • A Gentile and a Tax Collector – considered an unbeliever, outside of the Church.
    • Shunning
    • Excommunication (BCP 2019, pg. 143)

The Responsibility to Say Something

  • Sometimes we hesitate to say something because we are afraid of coming across as judgmental or unkind.
    • The opposite is actually true. It is unkind to not warn someone when they are in danger.
    • Sin is a spiritual danger zone.
    • Ezekiel 33:7-9
  • We don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) judgemental and unkind in the way we communicate.
    • Ephesians 4:15 – “Speaking the truth in love”
  • Even when we speak lovingly, some may not want to hear the truth. They may take offense. If they do, pray for them and ask the Lord to use your words for good.

The Hope of Restoration

  • Keep the end in mind: restoration.
    • Jesus’ instruction about confronting a brother who has sinned against you comes immediately after the parable of the lost sheep. When you confront someone about their sin, you are on a rescue mission!
  • Jonah gets angry when the Lord forgives the people of Nineveh.
  • We have to be careful in the midst of conflict to keep restoration in view as we have these difficult conversations. It is easy to become like Jonah. But we want to be more like Jesus.
    • When we lose sight of this and hold on to the secret hope that God will smite someone, we need to ask God to remind us of his heart for that person.
    • Ezekiel 33:10-11
    • What an amazing God we serve!

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