But if he will not listen, take one or two others along. (Matt. 18:16)
SOME ARGUMENTS SIMPLY cannot be won. We could contend indefinitely over questions like: What’s the best ice cream? Who is the greatest living actor? Or is green a more vibrant color than blue? That’s because each of these questions is purely a matter of opinion. You may have your opinion; but I have mine, and each is as valid as the other. To reach a conclusion, we would need something more than your word against mine.
In the same way, it is vital to rely on something more than your own opinion when addressing a grievance or righting a wrong with another believer. In the absence of a clear authority, any interpersonal dispute can quickly degenerate into a contest of one person’s will against another’s. To correct, challenge, or rebuke, you need the witness and authority of the church.
That’s why Jesus outlined a procedure for confronting sin that includes increasing layers of accountability. If a personal intervention is not successful, include a neutral party. If that doesn’t work, involve the entire body. The purpose is to demonstrate that you represent something more than yourself and your own opinions. One witness may be ignored, and two can be easily dismissed; but the witness of the church demands attention.
Reread the basic doctrines of your church this week.
Lawrence W. Wilson is the author of A Different Kind of Crazy: Living the Way Jesus Did and coauthor of The Long Road Home. He lives near Indianapolis, Indiana.