17 April 16
NEW Series - "Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice" - Part 1
This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
We start a series today that will help us define more clearly a key part of our vision, “Responding to the heart of God”. What does it look like to respond to God’s heart? At Bethel we have developed 5 key statements that help capture the essence of the heart of discipleship. They are broad enough to be inclusive of the vast scope of teaching in the area of discipleship, and yet they are specific enough to be understood as standalone statements.
• Diligently Seeking God
• Prayerfully Engaged
• Relationally Healthy
• Biblically Measured
• Fully Committed to the Whole Gospel for the Whole World
We started the series by addressing relational health. Perhaps not the most or least important mark but, for many, the one that may represent the greatest amount of pain.
Q. Why would relational health be even considered as a mark of a disciple? As a group, review 1 John and find the number of times John talks about relational health. Then, as a group, read Matthew 22:36-40. Finally take some time to read Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Do you understand why this is such a key issue to address?
TEXT: MATTHEW 18:15
We are spending our time on v.15 because we believe that, if Christ followers honoured this first step of the four mentioned in v.15-17, we also believe that 95% of issues would be resolved. Perhaps as a group, you may want to develop the four steps for your own discussions. There are also some reference notes at the end of the TB.
Big Idea: It’s On Me! (In other words it is on us to take responsibility for relational health)
Our outline is Reckon, Rumble, and Revolution. We will discuss the first two today and save “Revolution” for the next week (with thanks to author and speaker Brené Brown for these three key words. We have taken them and applied them to this text.)
1. RECKON (“If your brother sins against you…”)
We need to own what has happened and take responsibility.
Note the pain of this process. The words “brother” and “sin” help us “feel” the text.
This is a Christian brother or sister. Two people that have a certain amount of shared history.
Have you ever experienced deep pain in a relationship because of your close ties with the person?
How challenging can it be to” reckon”?
While Jesus is speaking of the church, many people live with deep pain because of family members or others they have loved and respected, and who have driven a dagger into their hearts. We can relationally bleed out at times.
This word refers to the breaking of a moral law, and can refer to an offense or a serious shortcoming. This is an important word to take note of, for two reasons.
1. Jesus is not saying that, every time someone looks at you sideways, you’re to go to them (if someone is that sensitive then they may need some healing.) He is talking about a very serious situation that, if not resolved at this first level, will warrant taking the next step. There is a certain “gravitas” to this context. However, the principle of keeping short accounts and open dialogue in relationships, as implied in this text, needs to be heeded. We need wisdom and discernment.
2. The second reason this word is important to take note of is because of the pain issue - sin has been committed, and sin destroys relationships. Sin and pain often go hand in hand.
Note how sin introduces pain and brokenness on the vertical plane. Read Isaiah 59:2 and Psalm 51:12. What are key indicators that demonstrate relational breakdown? Talk about the implications of the Gospel at this point. Note that Jesus is the speaker in Matt 18, telling His church how to resolve relational issues - He has come to deal with the greatest and most serious relational breakdown. Sin has broken the relationship between man and God and now Christ comes as the Restorer, encouraging us to be restorers as well.
Q. How does an understanding of the Gospel story impact how you deal with relational health?
Q. How does being on the receiving end of the Restorer encourage you to be a restorer?
2. RUMBLE (“go and tell him his fault”)
How well do you “rumble”? God calls us to enter into the rumble of relationships at times - He doesn’t just give us a “pass” because it’s difficult. He knows that it can enrich and restore relationships, and so the difficulty of it is worth the investment.
This means both rumbling with ourselves (entering into the difficult emotions within ourselves as we prepare to go to our brother), as well as rumbling with our brother (the actual interaction between me and my brother).
Following are two imperatives we looked at in the “Rumble with Yourself” section of our talk, and which you can consider when you are being called into the rumble:
- Prayerfully Posture – Ask God to examine your heart
o Am I acting out of a desire to be obedient?
o Do I want to see my brother/sister grow?
o Am I seeking unity where there’s disunity?
o Am I looking to put someone in their place?
o Am I frustrated and looking to vent?
• Humility vs Pride
o Do I recognize that I, too, have feet of clay and have examined my own heart?
o Do I recognize that, at this time, I am coming to you but that you may at some point need to come to me?
o Am I self-righteous and failing to see the log in my own eye?
o Am I judgmental and condemning?
o Am I going in tenderness and thoughtfulness?
o Am I loading up to fire?
- Prayerfully Weigh - (some practical things)
• Weigh your choice of words
o Are they seasoned with salt?
o Are they gracious?
o Are they so vague that they won’t be understood?
o Are they so blunt as to be hurtful?
• Weigh the timing
o Don’t put off what God is calling you to do, but do consider the timing in terms of what is going on in the persons’ life (e.g. if they have just received bad news, you may want to wait a bit; are they in the middle of exams? etc.)
• Other Practical Things:
o Consider the place – privacy/volume, etc.
It is important to note that the instruction of Matthew 18:15 is couched between to stories: the story of the lost lamb, and the instruction to forgive “70 times 7”. These both illustrate the posture of tenacious grace and tenacious tenderness. Going to our “brother” in grace and love is critical and life-giving.
Next week, we will look at the Revolution piece of the equation.
Mark and Rhonda Kotchapaw
- Taking “one or two witnesses”
This was in keeping with Old Testament precedents, as in Deuteronomy 19:15.
- What does “tell it to the church” mean?
“What Jesus had in mind for the gathering of believers who should hear about the brother’s sin can he debated. In the first century, where communities were close-knit and the local churches were small house gatherings, everyone would naturally be a party to this problem. Because all might be affected by the brother’s sin, all church members should be warned of its danger. This way, all might be instrumental in helping bring the offender back to righteousness.” Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 293). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.