Scripture: Luke 17:3b Jesus says, “If your brother sins rebuke him, if he repents forgive him.”
Observation: Jesus spoke into a fragmented culture. Jews and Romans hated each other. Pharisaic Jews despised the Jewish Sadducees. Zealots, another Jewish sect, allowed their ethnic pride to become an excuse to kill Romans and Jews who collaborated with the Romans. The rich and poor were divided as well. Into this fragmented world Jesus throws a command that has the power to build a new community of radical accountability and forgiveness. “If your brother sins, rebuke him; if he repents, forgive him.”
Application: We live in a fragmented world too; this fragmentation slips into the church so that even she becomes divided into camps based on age, ethnicity, income, and political affiliation. In other words, the dividing lines among the people of God in Jesus’ day are not all that different from the divisions among people in the church today. If we can just learn to lovingly rebuke each other, instead of gossiping about or avoiding each other, the fragmentation would stop. If we could learn the habit of forgiving those who hurt us, and let go of grudge-holding bitterness, the church would be united not fragmented. The way to foster the kind of intimate community that reflects Christ is to love the people around me enough to lovingly rebuke and graciously forgive them.
Prayer: God, thank you for loving me enough to rebuke and forgive me…very, very often. May I be willing to do for others what you have done for me so that the world might know that you have sent the Son to be the savior of the world. Amen.