This was the Scripture read in church on Sunday. It is a set of verses I have often felt less than excited about. I have had it quoted to me by someone who felt I was ending a friendship without trying hard enough to save it. (Uh, no, this Scripture is about people in my community that I desire a relationship with, not someone I have a casual friendship with and am ok with letting go.) I have seen people use it to exclude others who do not change and do whatever the person thinks they should be doing. Mostly, I read it and say, "Jesus wouldn't have used the word 'church' since there was no such thing when he was teaching!"
Then I heard it on Sunday as if for the first time. "Let such a one be as a Gentile and a tax collector." WOW. Jesus does not say stay away from them. Jesus says treat them as he treated Gentiles and tax collectors. Jesus ate with tax collectors. Jesus welcomed Gentiles. On Sunday I heard Jesus saying, even if they refuse to listen to you, love them anyway. It is possible I have heard 100 sermons say this very thing. I don't know. Sunday it is what I heard and I will never read these verses the same way again.
(I also heard a fantastic sermon on reconciliation. Thanks Joseph Penner!)