Agreement and Disagreements
I have been thinking lately of a few scriptures that I think have been misused and misapplied to disagreements among brothers of the faith. I think there is a real difference between mature men in the faith disagreeing and someone sinning against a brother.
Matthrew 18: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
This passage gives the process of how to deal with an notable and significant offense among two brothers. First, is this offense something large enough that it cannot be removed in your personal time of prayer by releasing it to The Lord? Have you even prayed about it? Are you really letting something small become a mountain? Sometimes we just need to “man up” and know that things happen unintentionally. Let it go and release it to The Lord. By doing this you allow the Holy Spirit to mature you and you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your brother.
Second. If it something that you feel must be approached then you are to go to the offending brother. Not to accuse but to to arrive at the place of reconciliation, forgiveness and healing.
Third, if the offending brother is not approachable then after a season of time bring others into the communication. Again, not to harass but to bring reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. At this point it is also to expose error which could bring division not only between you and him but he and the body of Christ.
There are more steps that I think should be approached carefully but I want to go on from this to where I am seeing some misuse of this passage. It seems that this passage is used by individuals in roles of authority to reprimand those who serve with them or below them for calling out concerns with leadership decisions. God does lift men into leadership roles to help the body. These offices should be revered and honored. Loyalty should be afforded at every junction possible. But here is where I am concerned about leadership. It has never been the individuals right of leadership to not be open to the critique of his fellow brother. No man is set in a position to live and rule empirically over the body of Christ. Especially in a democratic form of church government. If that is the chosen form of government of the church body, then honor the process. Men are chosen among their peers to serve their peers as the ministry serves the church. These individuals are special for the season of their service. This is not because of the position but because of the confidence placed in them by their fellow members. Since they are placed in leadership by them, then leadership should be administrated to help find the will of God for the church, with them and not without them. Leaderships challenge is to move others to the place God is calling them to go. That will be impossible without consensus, clarity and communion.
The Apostle Paul challenged Simon Peter publicly in Galatians for his public hypocrisies. He did not go privately because Simon Peters errors were public and too significant not to call out so that others would not practice the same actions. This was not for reconciliation, forgiveness or healing. This was for correction to the body of Christ where Simon was leading.
Galatians 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Simon Peters response is not noted in the passage, but we can assume he humbly fell in line with his brothers correction. Why would he not fall in place? His brother in the Lord, his fellow servant and laborer for the gospel, was telling him the truth. Paul was concerned with the greater good of the Church and the truth of the Gospel. Truth and righteousness was more important than any one man’s feelings or role. This was an issue that was central to the Gospel and demanded attention.
I personally do not believe administrative, organization structures or any other human form of government would have been on Paul’s radar nor on the Holy Spirits mind. I think we even today are too concerned with those things that are merely tools rather than tasks mandated by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. If those who are having to live with the administration are happy then be happy and vote among yourselves those forms in place. Let God get glory out of the Gospel and don’t allow the Gospel to be hindered by administration or lack thereof.
What if Simon had quoted Matthew 18 to Paul? He would have been in error. He would have been marginalizing a man God had made his equal. He would have been making a mistake that would have been detrimental to the body of Christ. Never demean, defame or demonize your brethren because of disagreements. Contend for the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to bring unity and communion.
Leaders, we do damage to our God given leadership roles when we place ourselves in a superior role to our brethren. A position is not ours to use as a place to shut down dialogue and debate. Allow others to contend in a biblical way with the operation of the Church. If as a leader one still feels that God is directing down a certain path, then do it with the blessing of both those who agree and disagree. But never use the scripture to make those God has raised up and used as men who sin or stir strife. Godly men want the best for the Church and it’s leaders. Even Paul and Barnabas separated in their physical work but continued in the work of the same Gospel message. Disagreements arise and as time passes those disagreements vanish and are forgotten.
To shun others because one is insecure with others questions is below the office of the leadership one have been chosen by their brethren to serve in.
Never use the scripture that deals with offenses among believers to be an obstacle to opposition of ones organization or administration. A brother sinning against a brother is different than a leaders leadership among ones peers. Sin separates us from God and each other. The Blood of Christ unites us and administrative differences should never sever brothers from each other. We might not can work together but we can walk and worship together. We may not care for each other’s leadership style, organization or administration but that is not equivalent to the bond of the Blood of Christ among us. May we all be hid behind the cross and never place anything if front of it!