Text: Matthew 18:15-35.
There are a couple themes to take away from this past week. The first one is from the text: Whether 77 or 490 times (seventy times seven) or 150,000 years worth of labor wages, the point is that God’s grace and forgiveness are limitless. That’s pretty darn good news; gospel you might even say.
But extend that to those “other people” – you know, people who just simply are always offending others, who like to be jerks, who are the reasons we have conflict resolution and grievance policies in the church constitution and bylaws….maybe there should be a limit. It’s for the good of the community, for relationships, and for them and ourselves. Sign me up for that boundary workshop training!
While it’s certainly appropriate to set standards for behavior, Jesus is clear on his standards for forgiveness and grace – no limit. To impose any limit would be to place a stumbling block (see Matthew 18:6) that well, God isn’t a big fan of.
And that’s the question before us: What stumbling blocks do we as church have in place – intentional or unintentional – that keep people from experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness? What stumbling blocks have we put up that prevent those who Jesus is gathering to himself and to his church from being a part of the church unconditionally?
That’s the problem I think….more often than not, we think of those “other people” as the stumbling blocks that screw up our notion of church. And there’s some truth to that statement. The truth is though, that in light of sin, we’re all stumbling blocks of some way – making church something that God never intended it to be.
Grace and forgiveness are the standards of the kingdom of heaven, and the standard of the church. That means no limits, to terms, no membership class required, we just come…..the community of broken stumbling blocks that Jesus loves and forgives.