Getting Along in the Church

Scripture is powerful, helpful, instructive, and interesting.

One of the things that makes it interesting is how it is put together and what you find in different parts of Scripture.

I find it interesting that the word “church“ is found only two times in the four Gospels. Both are found in the Gospel of Matthew. In the first passage (Matthew 16:13-18), Jesus told His disciples that “on this rock I will build my church“ (Matthew 16:18).

The second passage has to do with “getting along“ in the church. (Matthew 18:16-20).

Jesus gave disciples instructions on how to get along with one another and how to resolve conflict, as well as how to handle sin in the church.

While all of this is complicated, let me give you some simple takeaways from this passage.

First, conflict seems to be inevitable. We live in a sinful, fallen world, and we do not shed our old sinful nature until we are new in the kingdom of heaven.

Conflict is also inevitable simply because different people have different views. Our minds work differently; we are wired differently. That means there will be times when we must resolve conflict.

Second, Jesus gave us a process and purpose in resolving conflict. We tell our brother when he has sinned not to get even but in order to gain a brother.

This must be the purpose of “telling” our brother. Jesus did not instruct us to “confront“ our brother but to “talk“ to our brother. Though confrontation may have to take place at some point, talking is much better than confronting.

No one wants to be confronted. We simply want someone to have a reasonable, kind conversation.

Third, dealing with difficult situations requires time and patience. Resolving conflict and repairing hurt feelings does not come easy. Jesus gave a three-step process of dealing with conflict. Talk with your brother alone, take two or three other brothers with you, and, finally, take it to the church.

What is obviously left out is the length of time that this takes. Sometimes we assume this happens in a three day period. That is obviously not the case. We must give people time to pray, think, and resolve to change.

Finally, bathe everything you do in prayer and devotion to God. Ask God to go before you. Ask him to pave the way. Pray that you might have a “word fitly spoken.”

And pray that God would bless the process so that you would “gain a brother.”

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