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Love and Conflict

LOVE AND CONFLICT Matthew 18: 10-20

One of Jesus’ favourite metaphors for God’s all-embracing love for his people was the image of the shepherd and his sheep. He referred to himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep; he knows them and they know him [Jn 10:11-14].
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is one of the best-known of Jesus’ sayings and is rich in meaning for those who dare to dig deeply. But even faith communities based on faith in Jesus Christ and committed to sharing God’s amazing love can sometimes experience disharmony and conflict.
How do we deal with conflict and disagreement in a Christ-like way?
This week’s gospel gives us some clues. Matthew sets out some clear but challenging steps that promise to bring about a peaceful resolution to the most stubborn situation.
But even the best intentions will fail unless there is a commitment to reconciliation based on love and entered into with the right attitude.
“Therefore whoever humbles themselves as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” [Mt 18: 4]
If we acknowledge that everyone is precious in God’s sight, and that every relationship is valuable in the kingdom, we can look with confidence to the great hope that lies in Jesus. Nobody is a lost cause with Jesus.
And no matter how tough it may get, Jesus has promised that he will always be with us.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [Mt 18:20]

The Parable of the Lost Sheep [10-14]
10 ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.* 12What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of your* Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Reproving Another Who Sins [15-20]
15 ‘If another member of the church* sins against you,* go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.* 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.

18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

God’s love is: [vv10-14]
• Personal yet without favour
• Seeking
• Patient
• Rejoicing
• Protecting

Conflict Resolution 101: it’s all about attitude [Matt 18:4, 1Jn 4: 7-12]
• Be clear – the personal approach [v15]
• The small group approach [v16]
• Bring it to the Church [v17a]
• Love them into submission even if it takes a lifetime
• Pray!