Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Matthew 18.15-20 (2022 Week 19)

Listen to a reflection for Wednesday 10 August 2022 on Matthew 18.15-20

Matthew 18.15-20

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’


What does the word ‘church’ mean to you? Do you think of a beautiful building, or do you think of a community of like-minded people? Do you think of a place of peace, or do you think of a place of conflict? Do you think of a refuge from the challenges and distractions of daily life, or do you think of a hotbed of gossip and self-righteous judgement? As you ponder on what the word ‘church’ means to you, you might like to consider whether your first answer had anything to do with a place where you can be close to God, where you can be fed by God, and where you can be inspired by God to further his mission in the world.

‘Church’, of course, is not really about the buildings in which people gather. ‘Church’ is about the people themselves. ‘Church’ is about all people being able to congregate in one place to worship God, to pray to God and to be inspired by God. But … there is a snag! The problem lies in that phrase ‘all people’. ‘All people’ are different. In that individuality lies the cause of much conflict and disagreement. It is a sad fact that, even in church communities, there is dissension and distress. This is being addressed in today’s reading.

Those who profess a faith in Jesus Christ are often perceived as being weak. Our calling to be self-sacrificial, loving and forgiving is seen as the definition of one who is incapable of flourishing in a self-serving and self-indulgent world. As Christians are called to live a faithful life of generosity and service, many turn their backs on such a feeble agenda. The Christian way of life is viewed as one of worldly failure. But, of course, there are those who come into our communities of faith who seek to change things. Even those in positions of leadership use the language of dominance and success in the way they seek to manipulate the way in which we live out our lives as disciples and apostles. It is when confronted with such worldliness that the church needs to show its strength … it needs to challenge and hold firm to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus’ words that open today’s reading: If another member of the church sins against you, is a rallying call for the faithful. There does come a time when the faithful have to stand firm in their commitment to following Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. There does come a time when those who would commercialise the church have to be challenged. There does come a time when those who turn their backs on the teachings of Jesus Christ have to be shown, in love, the error of their ways. To take on such a judgemental role is not easy, and it should never fall on the shoulders of one person … read again what Jesus says on this point.

The church exists for the glorification and the worship of God. It does not exist as a money-making organisation or as a tourist attraction. It is the duty of every Christian to pray for strength of faith in order that they may remain ready to be loyal and faithful disciples and apostles, true to their divine calling as custodians of the legacy founded by Jesus and set upon the firm foundations of his disciple Peter.

Let us all pray for our churches and for their honouring of Christ’s call.