Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus said, "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. But 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. If 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. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, 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. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
Reflection Borrowing an analogy from one of my favoirte preachers, Barbara Brown Taylor, we are “like pebbles put in a tumbling jar - smoothing out our rough edges by rubbing up against one another.” Can you imagine one unpolished pebble saying to the other pebbles in the jar, “This is just the way I am. I have always had these points and sharp edges. I have always been like this? Just look at my Meyers/Briggs or my MMPI!” Or, “This point is really special to me?” Or, “You just rub me the wrong way?”
The thing is, in family life, community life, Church life and global life it is is not all about me. It is all about we. That’s what Jesus wants the disciples and us to understand when he says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” When we come together, work together or worship together, we inevitably rub up against one another. We become as the abrasive grit in the tumbler of life used to smooth the rough edges of gemstones. That is how we grow together, how we become more divinely human and more humanly divine. Like gems hidden in rough unpolished agates the Word of God is secreted within each one of us. The hidden jewel, God’s Word, is love.
For most of us loving our neighbors does not come without a rub, especially if our neighbors do not think, feel, look and behave just the way we do. It is through the rough and tumble of life that we learn to love those, “other people.” Love is cultivated and refined in the give and take of relationships. Anyone who is in a committed relationship or long time friendship knows this. Love means rubbing up against one another. Love is not all about me. Love is about we.
And “Jesus said, “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.”” I believe the operant word in Jesus’ sentence is, “Listen.” In fact, Jesus uses the word “listen” four times in three sentences. It must be important.
Listen. Open the ears of your hearts to your sisters’ and brothers’ points of view. Listen beyond superficial differences; traditional, comtemporary; red, blue; global, local; chocolate, vanilla; listen for the place of our shared humanity wherein we care deeply about our children, families, community, Church and world. Listen beyond our superficial differences; Oriental, Asian, Hispanic or Caucasian; Jewish, Islamist, Buddhist, Atheisit, Hindu, Christian, unaffiliated; listen beneath all that for the place of shared divinity wherein we truly love our neighbor.
Loving our neighbor does not require uniformity of thought nor conformity of behavior. Loving our neighbor means we allow enough spaciousness in our relationship to make room for our differences. Loving our neighbor means the jewel hidden within each person is revealed. Listen.
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