August 29, 2011

Ekklesia - when community is broken

My friend Evan wondered aloud on facebook this morning whether preachers would re-preach this weekend whatever they talked about two weeks ago.  Seems as though Matthew and the Revised Common Lectionary people are very much concerned with what the church is binding and loosing.  I'm not preaching this weekend, and Keith talked about the keys rather than the fetters of the Kingdom, so I'm guessing he won't just rehash everything.  I'll probably come back to the whole binding and loosing thing later this week, but today I'm pondering the implications of ekklesia (community) or rather the lack thereof.

See, the NRSV translates Matthew 18:15 as " 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 alas, this isn't the only other time Matthew uses that great word, Ekklesia, in his gospel. Instead, he chooses to translate Jesus' word as adelphos, brother.

The NIV gets credit for the better translation this time, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." The implications are clearly for the community of the faithful, but the word here is not community, not church, but it is about one person sinning against another (all singular), and boy how that changes things.

Or does it.

When members of the body of Christ act as individuals, and not surprisingly, screw it up, how does it effect the community at large? How does forgiveness and reconciliation or the lack thereof affect the larger body? What difference does it make that a brother sinned against a brother?

Jesus seems to make it clear that the first step is one-on-one relationship (re)building. Go and meet with that person alone, point out the fault, and if reconciliation happens, rejoice. But if it doesn't, if it begins to spread like a cancer to the whole community, well then additional steps are needed. More on that tomorrow.

For now, I'm really wondering about that word, brother, and how it impacts the whole issue of sin and forgiveness within the ekklesia.

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