The Church’s Call to Relentless Love – Matthew 18:6-17

 It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. Matthew 18:9

D.A. Carson said, “… precisely because our culture finds it relatively easy to believe that God is a God of love, we have developed notions of God’s love that are disturbingly spongy and sentimental and almost always alienated from the full range of attributes that make God, God.” Sadly, in what Calvin referred to as the “idol factory” of the mind, human beings tend to craft gods who make them comfortable. We readily accept those characteristics and actions that we judge as loving, while rejecting deeds and appearances of harshness. It’s the same with people. If someone is deemed to be “accepting” or “tolerant,” he might be counted as a “loving person;” while a person who confronts or challenges sin in another person’s life, is counted as “judgmental” and “unloving.” Even within God’s attributes, it is difficult for some to reconcile the love of God with His judgment of the wicked in hell. But it is not right to count the doctrine of eternal judgment as unloving, because the most loving Person to walk the earth taught it. And it is the most loving thing one can do, to warn people of the severe consequences that lie ahead of them on their present course. It is unloving to appear “tolerant” while you know a person is headed for his destruction.

On Sunday we will examine a Scripture text from Matthew chapter 18, where Jesus teaches the nature of love within the church community. We are called to love one another in a way that demonstrates passion for the individual disciple in our church. We find first, in verses 6-9, a love that is relentlessly tough on oneself, so as not to damage the faith of others in the church. Secondly, in verses 10-14, we read of a shepherd diligently seeking after one wandering sheep. From this illustration, we discover that love for one another leads us to relentlessly pursue the straying disciple, seeking to restore him to the fold. Then in verses 15-17, Jesus teaches the sin-confronting process whereby straying individual disciples are won back into the family. When we think of love, our minds rarely run to “cutting off limbs” or “announcing sin to the entire church;” but the love that God ordains for His church is one that relentlessly pursues its object until it makes sure that he or she achieves the common goal of the upward call of God, whatever the cost.

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