Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Resolving Disputes

Matthew 18:15-17

Many of us have situations with others that need resolution.  Every time I read Matthew Chapter 18, dealing with sins believers have against each other, my own situation would resurface.  The passage essentially tells us to go to the person who has wronged you, and discuss it privately.  If that fails, go back with one or two other people, and finally, if things cannot be resolved, take it before the Church.  If things still can’t be resolved, treat that person as a “pagan or a tax collector.”

It’s hard to know how to work this solution in today’s world.  I would imagine that most of these disputes among early Christians were among persons of the same church, in the same geographic location, with similar beliefs, and respecting the same church elders.  At any rate, Step 1, talking directly to the person who has sinned against you, is obviously the place to start.

It’s nice to think that when you bring a wrong to someone’s attention that they will hear you out, recognize the deed as sin, and take responsibility for it.  And ideally, what follows then is resolution and restoration of the relationship, and best of all, both parties being right with God in how things were handled.  Apparently that isn’t always the case, or Jesus wouldn’t have bothered with Steps 2 and 3.  And it wasn’t the case it my situation, either.

So what happens next?  If there’s one thing worse than an imperfect resolution, it’s no resolution at all, or a confused feeling about how to complete things according to God’s plan.  I’ve been at this place for several years, not knowing exactly what to do, and it’s hard to move on under these circumstances.

This situation demonstrates the importance of a good church and pastor, or some other Christian mentor, who can clear some of the fog and point out the right way to go.  I was able to do just that with my pastor.  I wish I had not struggled with it alone for so long.

Tonight, I have resolution – not restoration, but that’s okay.  I can move forward with resolution, and I will.

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