Monday, September 27, 2010
~ "We the jury, in the above entitled action..."
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses'. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matt 18:15-17)
We all have conflicts that arise amongst our fellow Christians. How do we deal with them? What should we do? In a beautifully articulated sermon last night, my pastor laid a foundation for a peaceful solution to all problems (legal or otherwise) when dealing with members of the body of Christ - and yes, it does happen!
Taking a fellow Christian to court is similar to taking a bleeding man to a vampire for a bandaid. Don't get me wrong, I'm very "pro-justice" and I do believe our justice system works - most of the time! But when you have an issue that is a relatively minor infraction of the laws of the state, why would you not want to seek a solution outside of the judicial system? I'm not saying that if you see your fellow Christian brandishing a gun you should call a preacher and not the law; by all means, if life being threatened you dial 9-1-1!
When situations arise that don't fit the "eminent danger" scenario, try this: go to the person - alone (and don't stop to discuss this with 75 of your closest friends). If they don't agree, grab someone with the same spiritual beliefs or background - then go back to them. If that fails, then bring the issue to a church leader (pastor, minister, priest). As a final resort, you can bring it out in the open.
What these verses tell us, in essence, is to work it out amongst ourselves. We, as Christians, should be able to judge spiritually (after all, we will be judging the world one day - 1 Cor 6:2-3). God tells us we, as believers in Christ, should not go to the law with other believers. We should choose church leaders to decide the matters and agree to abide by their decision. Then we are told to get along and serve him!
I know that some of you are sitting there reading this and rolling your eyes. Just because when people enter a courtroom, place their hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth, doesn't mean that they believe it is truly the word of God, or even that they will tell the truth - only a true Christian can do that with the knowledge of the repercussions that will follow if they lie. We are compelled to live by the law of God and the law of man - but in a situation where the law of man is not necessary, why would you not want to solve the problem within the community of your fellow Christians? If it's justice you are looking for, you can find it this way. If your desire is for vengeance, then you will need to go to the courts - but remember "vengeance is mine" (Heb 10:30).
(taken in part by a sermon from Charles Brooks)
(photo by Celia Darrigo)