You know you have kingdom cultural problem when the basis for relationship reconciliation and restoration has no basis in principle, procedure, or protocol.
Reading the analysis of commentators and pundits on the breach between Barnabas and Paul over John Mark, one would think their relationship met a suddenly when it would be more consistent to the story and human experience in general to assume the conflict was a final step in its deterioration.
Paul and Barnabas had failures on reconciliation leading up to the John Mark crisis.
Analysis of many relationship breaches reveal:
- People tend to overlook little breaches and misunderstanding when they fail to discern that the pile of unresolved things is growing. When the pile finally reaches a proportion that blocks passageways, they then deal with the final breach without reference to the previous pile.
- People tend to assume that reconciliation and restoration should be based upon “whatever it takes” instead of principle, procedure, and protocol. The definition of “good relationship based upon love” that assumes a mature believer will go along to get along is so obviously erroneous as to be unworthy of consideration.
- As with Barnabas and Paul, the irreconcilables may expose fatal flaws in submission to assignment. It appears that Barnabas walks away from the assignment to which Holy Spirit him in order to devote himself to a personal project with John Mark. That might be the best analysis of the Scripture, certainly best presentation of the facts given us in Acts and other Scriptures. Otherwise, we are projecting presuppositions on the passages without applying kingdom cultural principles.
- When God defines a relationship and the roles and responsibilities of the relationship, reconciliation and restoration must continue to respond His definition. If you breach a marriage relationship, for example, God’s definition of marriage, roles, relationship, responsibilities, must be the foundation for restoration. You cannot assume that a man can reconcile with his wife and maintain a relationship with his mistress, right?
- In the same way, those that rebel against assigned authority, breach their submission to alignments, cannot be reconciled and restored to a different relationship with those leaders. The rebel can’t write the reconciliation package as if a negotiation is in order when God is the One who makes the leadership assignment in the first place. If the change of relationship is defined by God, there is a procedure and protocol for that redefinition, and the leader is the leader in that procedure.
- With regards to friendships, the procedures and protocols of the kingdom continue to apply. If the friendship is between married people, ignoring marriage relationships isn’t possible. If the friendship is between leaders, ignoring leadership relationships isn’t possible. If the friendship is between leader and follower, ignoring leadership protocols isn’t possible.
In other words, people in rebellion wish to redefine relationships to accommodate their demands, subvert their submission, and rewrite history to fit their justifications for having a problem with authority. Often, kingdom leaders as well as rebels ignore these kingdom culture dynamics in order to appear heroic or humble, and they allow or even celebrate the destruction of kingdom culture in so doing!
Kingdom has a culture, and that culture has principles, procedures, and protocols that help us define relationships, roles, and responsibilities. We cannot breach culture to mend fences. We cannot ignore God’s assignments because they make us uncomfortable. We cannot justify rebellion using cultural norms from the world or any other subculture without damaging kingdom culture.
The most obvious way we have failed to maintain kingdom culture: relationships.
At first, we wonder why Jesus addresses relationship breach with such a lengthy treatment, as if this discussion is so important that He could leave out the big ticket items of modern churchanity to spend time discussing personal and corporate responses to relationship health. And, sad as it may be, the treatment of Matthew 18 in modern christianism is an insult and blasphemy to Jesus.
The reason Jesus focuses upon relationship for the Ecclesia answers to the discussion we are having about kingdom culture. Again, “the most obvious way we have failed to maintain kingdom culture: relationships.” We have sacrificed the principles, procedures, and protocols of the kingdom to “let’s find a way to get along.” That substitution of humanism and human cultural values for kingdom culture and kingdom values has so diminished kingdom culture that we have only some film and surface slush left!
Jesus speaks to the most basic because He speaks to the most general. If we get this right, we restore kingdom culture in fundamental ways! If we continue with our humanistic mores, the kingdom culture remains distant.
Kingdom has a culture. Relationships are fundamental to that culture. Marriage and family foundations come first. Government and social relationships come from those within the kingdom. Healthy Ecclesia relationships are as necessary to body health as the very systems of the physical body to its health.
What fails us most often in reading Scripture is an insufficient mindset, a context of presuppositions into which the words of Jesus say what they mean coming out of His mouth.
Of course, there is a whole body of christianism that never even tries to do this, subverting the Bible and Jesus to a different context and creating a false impression about the mind of Christ. We are not those people, right?
The presuppositions upon which Jesus speaks do not damage any other Scripture, and any other Scripture, properly applied, does no damage to the words of Jesus. So, the presuppositions of Jesus about kingdom culture serve in applying and implementing relationship reconciliation and restoration.
“Gained a brother” is a powerful phrase. But the discussion begins with “if your brother sins (that sin directed toward or against or involving) you.” So, Jesus begins the discussion with a breach of relationship, and that starting point is of vital importance to the rest of the discussion. How do we determine what “sin” means? And, the presupposition of Jesus in this entire scenario, serious as it is, speaks to that breach of relationship, because that relationship is defined by kingdom culture.
False Expectations and Sins
Most of the relationship breaches in which I have been involved, whether between me and someone else in the kingdom, between people I lead in the kingdom, or between kingdom leaders, are not “sin” based breaches at all. They seldom involve sin; they are usually and predominately breaches of false expectations, selfish and childish, stubborn and silly, personal stuff that adults should be able to talk out.
I don’t think we do great disservice to kingdom culture when someone fails to offer us the response we imagine we deserve in our delusions, in other words. “They failed to greet me properly. They ignored me. I should be receiving greater honor around from them.” That isn’t “sin involving you from your brother.” That is dysfunction in relationship that mature people work out through dialogue because of love.
Sinning is a breach of kingdom culture in terms of principle, procedure, and protocol. When that occurs, damage done to the entire culture must be addressed, else continued disregard for these sins destroys culture altogether.
Determining what Jesus means by “your brother sins” is of paramount importance here.
In most situations then, the “your brother sins” part of the relationship breach cannot be reconciled simply because the real issue isn’t an actual “sin involving you.” It is a matter of interpersonal maturity that needs long suffering, love, and honor.
Begin with the kingdom relationship definitions to determine “your brother sins involving you.” Then, address the breach of culture that answer to “sin” in order to repair the breach. For the most part, Jesus isn’t talking about friendship or people living up to your expectations of relationship, people treating you as you imagine, demand, prescribe, or expect, in other words. Those aren’t sins at all! Those are symptoms of your pride and immaturity.