God is at the centre of fellowship — Matthew 18:18–20

Humility and honesty— part 2

40 blogs of Lent — day 38

Oops, looking for an image to illustrate the phrase, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven I found images that I imagine 50 shades of Gray would have, even though I have the worst of this filtered: It was revealing. This passage is about a different sort of discipline, so no safe word is necessary here, discipline which is not for self-gratification, but it is for the good of the church.

A pair of hands, bound at the wrist by a chain. The hands are cupped and facing upwards.

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loose* in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

*Or shall have been bound… shall have been loosed

Matthew 18:18–20 ESV UK

We are talking about discipline and the church here, but it is in the middle of a section on humility, a church that disciplines its members disciplines itself. Examine yourself, it could be you who needs to repent, and that goes as much for churches as organisations as it does for individuals. At a time when in the last few weeks there has been more news about churches covering up historic abuse and there has been the Evangelical Alliance refusing to condemn conversion therapy, a so called ‘therapy’ that supposedly can change a person’s sexual orientation from gay or transgender to straight. Conversion therapy started as a supposed cure for autism. There is no cure foe a neurological condition where the brain is wired differently. Conversion therapy is a form of abuse for autistic people and it is abusive to LGBT+ people. I see the Evangelical Alliance stand as a hate crime.

Unusually for me I have included a Bible footnote in the quote above. The church has been commissioned and given authority to bind and loose things, there are different opinions to what this means, but here the context is to do with discipline. Binding and loosing is about what is already bound and loosed in heaven, There is no room foe heavy handed policing here, the content of Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel is humility, of putting the needs of other people before your own. If only churches would take this approach with LGBT+ people putting their needs first, rather than the church’s dogma. I thank God that there are churches where this is already the case.

We should agree in prayer. Not in a way where one person’s view is heard, no-one is to dictate what is the right way, but to make sure sure every voice is heard. the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said all voices should be heard in the consultation about how LGBT+ people are treated in the Church of England, Living in Love and Faith.

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them,” Shows the church is inclusive, all who come to Christ are included with God included at the centre. Jesus even shared his last meal with Judas Iscariot, the man he knew had already arranged to betray him. Jesus said that he will never reject anyone who comes to him, no matter what restrictions the church puts in their way in his name.

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