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Thursday: Restoration and Unity — 11 Comments

  1. I had a wry grin to myself this morning as I read the advice on restoration. I had just checked the local community facebook page where people had been accusing others of bad-mannered driving, discourtesy in the local shopping mall and so on.

    I imagine that if the Bible had been written in our time the advice would have been to use private messaging first, and never use Facebook to air your disputes.

    I had a situation where a woman publically trolled me on the community Facebook page giving a highly colored and biased account of a disagreement we had. My kneejerk reaction was to correct the situation and give my side of the story. But good sense prevailed and I decided that silence was the best answer. I ignored her comment and when I checked later she had received no "likes" for her outburst and nobody responded.

    In an age when naming and shaming on social media seems to be the norm, it is worthwhile taking the biblical advice and seeking private solutions first. Technology may have changed but the principles remain the same.

    • As was mentioned in an earlier comment this week, reconciliation takes a period to form itself into a feasible activity that would bore a desired result. However, most of the times it is the "knee-jerk" approach that we tend to adopt to.

      Jesus' counsel on crisis management needs both parties to cognizant to the matter at hand. I realize that when approaching a brother, you may need to compose yourself and avoid remarks that would stir up a separate problem. Sadly nowadays, in the age of social media, we find ourselves worsening the situation by throwing the matter into a forum of people who might not have been part and parcel of the start of the problem.

      We have to learn to be sincere with ourselves first. Do we want to solve the matters or want to showboat the matter for all to know that you had been offended? This questions have to be answered by ourselves to begin with. The next step then would need timing, approach the matters when the other party has also had time to digest the matter. We also need to be clear with one another from the get go that we are seeking a solution. Then we could present our concerns or petition to one another, in a sincere but respective way as possible.

      Now this we cannot achieve on our own ability. Reliance on God's intervention through prayer would be important. If love and patience is evidenced in your approach the likelihood is that you will settle the matter fast.

      However, Jesus understands human nature, and in some many cases these approaches may just hit the wall owing to the lack of cooperation from both parties. The effort to restore a relationship must be also evidenced. This is what Jesus means by calling in a neutral person, also ready to come to unite the both parties. Matthew 18:15-17 recognizes that at times, we may want to end a dispute but find ourselves with a party that would want to keep the battle going. In such a situation accepting to lose may not be really addressing the issue, but shows commitment to end the drama. This is a painful point to find ourselves at but living the matter to God may be the only way then. However, we need to continue praying for them.

      My younger years, I found myself wanting to win all and even keep grudges; the burden was heavy and nonsensical. I matured and I have been on a quest to restore relationships with many whom I had issues with. The journey still continues. I am so glad that God led me to books like Hosea, Philemon and many other biblical stories that woke me up, and showed me the way. The friends around me to provided important counsel.

    • Mr. Maurice, you are so right! We need to be very careful how we use technology. Yesterday, in America, a teen was arrested at his school for making terrorist threats against his school on his social media page. His reason was that he had been bullied by several other teens from the school on a social media page. So, we must to be very careful, because we don't know what effect our words will have on others. We, adults and children alike, are supposed to use these social media tools (including this one) to communicate, encourage and uplift each other. It's my hope that some of the people that use social media negatively will read our posts, and decide that there's a better way to resolve conflicts and achieve reconciliation.
      God's blessing to you all.

  2. As I write this, this day, I know that all of us are in an event or a process, where we are mending fences or even have just had a relationship torn apart. The reality of the world is really chaos, and we all know that sin has hugely facilitated this environment.

    A torn relationship puts weight on our shoulders; a burden of bitterness, pride, or even remorse. If this are experiences we are having, then this means we already are aware of our problem.

    *Step one,* Then we are *cognizant* that relationship strain is present, that's a gift from God, now a harder but doable journey lies ahead. *Welcome the Holy Spirit into your heart through prayer to supervise, guide and engineer the process.* Reconciliation will take a process that we need to understand.

    *Step Two* Readiness and Willingness to resolve the matter. Do we want to solve the problems? Wherever you are; whoever you are or Whatever it is, the initiative for resolution must begin from our hearts or us. As mentioned before, God did not offend us, we did, but he initiated a process to reconcile humanity to Him. What is it then for us? Start the process to reach out to the brother, sister or group that you are in conflict with. Whereas you cannot know the response from the other party, let your reach out be clear and your intentions be known. "We are at a crossroad, that disturbs me, and I wish we could end this!"

    *Step Three*: Confess clearly where the *bone of contention* lays, without going in circles. Let it be known that at a specific point you got offended or you offended your brother or sister; and you have been thinking about it.

    *Step Four* Address or Discuss the matter: At this point you should have forgiven the matter or want to forgive or wish that your brother would forgive you on the matter. A frank discussion, would dissect the matter and direct the matter into a point for resolution. Be ready to let go of grounds or positions; be ready to listen. If it may need the parties to go back and think through the process, - if that will aid - then do that. So long as all effort lead to bringing you both back together then anything goes.

    *Step Four* Chart a way forward: this could include accepting and assuring that all effort will be made to avoid a future similar incident from occurance; developing modalities to arrest issues leading to these kinds of commotions early in future. Being always open and sincere with one another in future; not resting on matters but addressing to them as they arise.

    *Step Five* - Restoration - we need to accept that this will take a while. There were burnt fences; healing will take time; but we need to be committed in the healing process. One thing that should never stop is dialogue for both parties and most importantly dialogue with God through prayer, to hold the process together. However, long it will take be ready to go the extra mile; do not give up on your brother despite the odds. *Remind yourself this, "if I was the one, would I wish they gave up on me?"*

    In everything seek for guidance, wisdom and strength that only God can give.

  3. RE: "He certainly is not talking about interrupting the Sabbath morning worship service with an issue of personal conflict. The appropriate place to bring the issue, if the first two steps have not helped to reconcile the two parties, is the church board."

    “And if he shall neglect to hear them,” what then shall be done? Shall a few persons in a board meeting take upon themselves the responsibility of disfellowshiping the erring one? “If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.” Verse 17. Let the church take action in regard to its members. Gospel Workers p. 262

    Is there a conflict here?

  4. The Divinely appointed counsel of Jesus is sound and effective when we observe all He has commanded us, yet we see too little of this today. Trouble and strife abounds when we act on our own reasoning and live by the standard of the world. Sometimes, when seeking to follow this counsel, others(in the church) are unwilling, and refuse to comply with the Lord's command. This is nothing less than open rebellion toward His word and His Authority. Such are regarded by Christ as wolves among the sheep of God's pasture. To shun Jesus' counsel is to deny Him as One with God.

    How to apply these words today? Why this question? What is different today than the day Jesus taught this commandment? Does modern education and/or technology nullify the written Word? The reality is that disobedience is nothing more or less than unbelief. We apply these words of Christ today by faith through perfect obedience.

  5. The lesson today outlines clearly the Christian based conflict resolution process. I live in Kenya where some Christians are quick to square their brushes in court rather than exploring all the biblical avenues as spelt out in the Bible. How about this?

  6. When Jesus gave the Matthew 18:15-17 counsel there was no such thing as CHURCH BOARDS. The Apostle Paul probably knew nothing about that counsel probably because he himself was writing his counsels at the same time that Matthew was in the process of writing his Gospel. So my question here would be: Why the "Church Board," to try to solve a church discipline problem at THIRD STEP? Why not A CHURCH BUSINESS MEETING for that purpose?

    • Neither scripture or the church manual support any church board for making a decision that must be rendered by the congregation. Only when a few usurp the authority not given, does this take place. And yes, it happens too often.

    • Yes, Pete, I believe there is an error in the lesson by equating "the church board" with "the church."

      In practice, it is appropriate to bring the matter to the attention of the church board because this governing body has the authority to call a church business meeting. And it is such a meeting of "the church" that is the final authority on matters of disagreement or even egregious error. The church in business session discusses and votes on the matter to be resolved. That should usually mean that a party at fault is given time to repent (we call that "censure") for a set period of time. When that person refuses to accept the voice of the church, that person is supposed to be "disfellowshipped" (be as the heathen) according to the plan laid out by Christ.


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