This chapter is mostly about fractured church relationships. This comes up quite a bit in the early church. It was certainly no haven of peace and tranquillity. Paul refers to a situation where the group confronted somebody about something (we’re not sure what- it may or may not be the same guy whose sin they were tolerating in 1 Corinthians). The details don’t really matter. Though this person has repented and feels remorse, the group is still keeping him/her at arm’s length. The cycle of sin/confrontation/repentance/r
So often in church relationships, we either avoid confrontation and hard conversations, or we have them but can’t get past the offense into grace and forgiveness. So we rarely get to be around people with whom we’ve survived some kind of difficulty and have let that issue deepen and strengthen the relationship. The minute there’s an offense, we tend to abandon the person and simply avoid them or move to a new church or ministry. Paul wants to see our relationships survive the difficulty. And he feels strongly enough about it, that he says the Enemy’s plan is to keep it from happening. To mess up the process somewhere along the way so that we never get to restoration. We actually have an Enemy seeking to keep us from loving each other deeply and meaningfully.
That’s sobering when you think about it. Don’t you think?