St. John's Lutheran
18:17-20 New International Version (NIV)
17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[a] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[b] loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Tue. August 11 - Matthew 18:17-20
This passage has been used to support the idea of “excommunication” from the
church. However, there is a huge problem. If we have engaged someone in love,
seeking reconciliation and forgiveness and that person still will not listen to even
their entire church family who loves them and cares for them then Jesus says we
should treat them as a “Gentile and a tax collector.” Some people think this is a
metaphor saying that we should kick them out and treat them like outcasts.
However, who do Jesus’s critics say that he is always hanging out but shouldn’t? Tax
collectors and sinners! (Matt. 9:10-13). In fact, Jesus says that those are the lost
sheep he has come to save! In other words, when all our attempts have failed to
engage, forgive and reconcile we keep on forgiving them and consider them as
sheep who have lost their way! We just keep giving more mercy and grace.