“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.” vs. 18
From the beginning, followers of Jesus formed faith communities and began to understand themselves as the visible presence of Christ in the world. It was almost immediately apparent that they would have to establish a means for discipline within the Body. These verses from Matthew became for them the “power of the keys,” a procedure for dealing with intractable and difficult members. The goal was always reconciliation, but if conversation and direct communication didn’t work, the intransigent one would be excluded from community. Those making this decision were assured that as they sat in judgment, Jesus himself sat with them. We might wish that there was no need in the Church for such a process. Unfortunately, no human organization can exist without a procedure for discipline…and the Church is no exception. The problem is that the power of the keys has been horribly abused. Corrupt leaders have used it to excommunicate and otherwise exclude countless innocent folks. Occasionally it has even been used to extort money from gullible sinners–money that has been used to gratify the base desires of church officials.
Those who sit in judgment within the community of faith always need to remember that the Jesus who promises to be with them was also known as a friend of tax-collectors and sinners. Mercy always has the last word!
Thought for the Day: What behaviors require discipline within the church?