Great post over at Slacktivist on Matthew 18 and church discipline–“Jesus did not shun tax-collectors”, articulating the thoughts I’ve had every time I’ve read that passage.
If this passage describes “church discipline,” then it doesn’t mean “church” the way we mean that word, and it doesn’t mean “discipline” the way we mean it either.
And he quotes Richard Beck:
The key, I think, to resolving the tension is found in observing how Jesus interacted with “tax collectors and sinners.” …
How might this understanding — we treat tax collectors as Jesus treated tax collectors — change how people have read Matthew 18.15-17? Well, it changes it completely. No longer is this text read as a mandate for exclusion, as a warrant for kicking people out. Rather what we find is a mandate for inclusion, a warrant for sending and seeking and embracing.
So true, so good, so challenging, so much messier–you mean we have to love them more?! Yup.
P.S. If you aren’t already subscribed to Fred Clark’s blog, you should go do that.