There is a spiritual battle for the souls of people taking place all around us every day.
How do I know this? Because of what I have seen take place in churches over the last 16 years of my life. Let me paint for you a hypothetical picture of what typically goes on in a church and how people in the church respond wrongly or rightly and therefore what results.
Wrong Responses: a church can have good doctrine on paper and even good preaching on Sunday, but this doesn’t mean the people in the pew or the pastor in the pulpit really believes the Scriptures. You can tell what people really believe based on what they do. So when people in a church have problems and the people don’t follow Matthew 5:23-26 or Matthew 18:15, then what those people are showing is either: (A) they don’t know these Scriptures; or (B) they have not taken the time to understand and follow these Scriptures; or (C) they are ignoring these Scriptures because of a fear of people’s response.
We as Christians are not given the option to not reconcile. Take a look at Matthew 6:14-15 –
“ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Jesus backs up his words again in Matthew 18 –
“ Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’  Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Then Jesus went on to tell a parable about a servant who owed a large debt and was forgiven by the king, but then when the servant saw a fellow servant who owed him a small debt, he made him pay up or be thrown in jail. When the king heard this he said to the first servant, “You owed me a lot, I forgave you, why did you not forgive your fellow servant. Be thrown in Jail until you pay the last cent you owe me.” Then Jesus said these words:
“ This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
The Principle: Churches get in trouble when people do not confront and forgive one another.
You might say, “I don’t like that word ‘confront.’” Okay, let’s use different words – we need to point out when someone has wronged us (Matthew 18:15) and then forgive them when they confess (Matthew 18:22).
We also need to go confess when we know we have wronged someone else and this needs to happen before you worship God (Matthew 5:23-24). When it says in Matthew 5:24 – “leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” What this means is don’t worship God if you know you have sinned against someone. This is a principle reiterated by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:17-32 related to communion. In other words if you have a broken relationship with someone (regardless if you caused it or not), don’t take communion until the problem is resolved. And if you need help resolving it take one or two other objective and spiritual people with you (Matthew 18:16 & Galatians 6:1).
About the speed in which reconciliation should happen, it should all happen as soon as possible. Ephesians 4:24-27 says if you let the sun go down on your anger and do not speak truth to one another then the devil gains a foothold. This is the spiritual warfare I was talking about at the beginning of this blog.
People who do church wrongly don’t deal with “stuff” – call it “sin” or call it “issues” – whatever you want to call it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that we are in right relationships according to God’s standards. And God has given us a method of making relationships right. The Scriptures above are God’s steps to making it right. And when people don’t follow the above and let the devil gain a foothold, then people start smack-talking behind each other’s backs and the result is the devil’s foothold gets more firm. When the Pastors and Elders know about this and then ignore this kind of stuff, the foothold gets more firm and it becomes harder for a Pastor or the Elders to do things rightly, which increases the devil’s stronghold over individuals in a church and sometimes increases the devil’s stronghold over the church itself.
Dear fellow Christ-followers – will you commit to follow the Scriptures and do relationships rightly? Will you commit to humble yourself, confess your sins to one another, and show forgiveness and grace to one another?
Right Responses: The right thing for each of us to do is when you sin, go confess to the person you hurt and ask for forgiveness. And if someone comes to you in this way, shower grace and forgiveness upon them and show them love and encouragement because I bet you it was dang hard for them to ask your forgiveness.
When you are sinned against, please go right away and say, “This is what happened. It hurt me.”
If someone comes to you and says, “You hurt me.” Then say to them, “I am sorry, will you forgive me?” I bet you it was really hard for them to come to you. I know pride starts to creep in and we don’t like saying, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” But when we do confess and ask for forgiveness a burden is lifted.
And when you say to someone, “You hurt me.” And they respond, “I am sorry, will you forgive me?” Shower grace and forgiveness on them because I bet it was hard for them to humble themselves and admit they were wrong.
The more we do it rightly, the more we will be a church family that loves one another and the more people will say, “There is something going on at that church that is different. God reigns in that church!!! I want to be a part of that!”
And the more we do it rightly the more the devil cowers and shakes and shivers and freaks out because he is about to be ousted and cast to hell by a community that will not put up with it anymore because they are standing united praying to God in Jesus’ name for deliverance from evil.
That’s the kind of church I want to be a part of!!!
Will you commit with me to do the above?
I write the above with a concern for The Church (all Christians) not just any one individual church.