Not long ago, a church in Texas followed the four agonizing but necessary stages of Jesus’ teaching on dealing with sin (Matthew 18:15-17). Sadly, the story didn’t have a Hallmark ending. Instead of repenting, the former church member posted the church’s written call to repentance on Facebook and accused the church of being hateful. “Jesus was angry with people just like you,” he posted for the internet world to read.
When I read the story, I was moved by the love, gentleness, and commitment of this church. They started by quietly addressing their brother’s sin. Then some members of this man’s small group Bible study got involved. Eventually, the concerned group told the church. They talked, prayed, wept together, and offered to help. They studied Scripture. But when the man refused to change after over a year of dialogue, they sent the letter he later posted. On it were the signatures of every brother and every sister involved at every stage, the bleeding ink of a community of broken hearts.
Is your heart broken by someone who seems to be walking away from Jesus? If so, let this church’s example be a wonderful guide to speaking the truth in love. Even more, remember the example of Jesus, who not only taught these words but lived them when he reached out to us all: “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).