Like Elijah and Elisha of old, Jesus is forming a new faith community—a new faithful Israel within Israel. That new faith community will become the church, which Jesus will commission with making the world his faith community. But along the way, this new faithful community will have to live in an environment that is not at all conducive to faithfulness. It will have to live in this fallen world which is full of stumbling blocks. (Mat 18.7.) More than that, stumbling blocks will arise within the church itself, for it will be comprised of sinners who have sin rising up within them, sin which can not only stumble themselves but other disciples as well. (Mat 18.8-9.) Among the sins that will naturally arise, there will be the impulse to look down on other disciples, to be unforgiving, to wander off from Christ, and to defy admonition and authority. (Mat 18.10, 12, 15-17, 35.) In spite of all that, Jesus envisions a community where there is such a connection between the people and God that Christ will be in the midst of them (Mat 18.19). And God will hover over the community and ensure that what is decided by the community will reflect what God has already decided in heaven. (Mat 18.18-20.) That’s some community. It will require that the sinners that comprise it have a special heart and mind toward one another that leads to a loving way of keeping short accounts. That’s what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 18.5-20. I hope you enjoy the sermon. Thanks for listening. —Alan Burrow
Click the play button to listen to 'Loving Your Neighbor in the New Faith Community' by Alan Burrow.