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Reconciliation in the body

Submitted: 8/12/2004
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Question: Two part question - Matthew 18:15-17 clearly defines the proper method/example of addressing issues/disputes with members in the body of Christ. If a single pastor is the sole authority of the local church, why doesn't Matthew exhort us to take the issue before the pastor? Why do people often take their issues to the pastor when Matthew clearly instructs us to try and work it out with the individual first, and then take it before the body of believers if it can't be settled in private?

Answer: When an assembly is under a single pastor, this “father-figure” is often seen by the members as the resolver of all relationship problems, much the way a father resolves the disputes between his little children. Of course, Jesus never taught this approach. As you say, he taught us to first make an honest attempt to work out our differences between ourselves. If that doesn’t work, we are to go back with a couple of other people. If that doesn’t work, we are then to take the matter before the church (the assembly). The pastoral elders would potentially become involved at this point in the process. Until step three, however, there is no biblical reason why the leaders of the church need to be involved. Of course, people will not follow this procedure unless they are taught to by their leaders.