"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him - work
it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend.
If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the
presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.
If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen
to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront
him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving
"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven;
a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is
eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything
at all on earth and make, a prayer of it, my Father in heaven
goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because
of me, you can be sure that I'll be there."
[The Message ]
This is a wonderfully circular process that deepens the connection
At first blush it would seem, from most translations, that there
is a final breaking of relationship. Some say "excommunication"
some say, "let them be to you as a Gentile."
Here we get the openness to start over. The question must be
raised about our relationship with those outside the pale whether
more gently as Gentiles or more hard as the excommunicated. Is
there not a special emphasis upon reaching out to those who do
not experience the expansive love of GOD and ourselves in their
life? Is this call not less than the call to share our resources
with one another as sisters and brothers of Jesus?
So be careful where you say "no" for it soon becomes
a place where we must say "yes." When we say "excommunicated"
or "Gentile" with one breath must we not, with the
next breath, say "friend" or "sister/brother."
This business with the "keys" to heaven is no easy
matter that can be decided by creed or technique. Thank heaven
GOD/Jesus/Spirit/Etc have been willing to start over from scratch
with you and with me. May we have the grace to pass that grace
on to others.
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