Friday, February 12, 2016

Help These Women!



Scripture:

Phil. 4:2   I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Observation:

Some kind of struggle had occurred in Euodia and Syntyche’s relationship. Paul tells us that they were laborers together with him in his ministry. They were not bad people but were women who were seeking to serve God. Even so, something had happened to create a rift in their relationship and this was hurting the church. Paul “urges” them “to be of the same mind in the Lord.” He doesn’t command them to get along, but he simply urges them to consider where they are in their walk with Christ.

This is a question of spiritual concern and these two women are valuable members in the kingdom’s work. So much so, that Paul asks his loyal companion to help these women. If it would not have been of such great concern to the kingdom, Paul would not have bothered asking someone to mediate the situation.  They were all believers, followers of Christ and yet, there was dissension. The mind of Christ creates a spirit of unity among God’s children and this is Paul’s desire. Please, “help these women.”

Application:

Paul has sometimes been painted as rather negative toward women because of a few passages of scripture. I believe that when those “troublesome” passages are taken alone, outside of the context of the entire sphere of Paul’s writings, we get the wrong idea. In this passage we find the Apostle Paul affirming the fact that these two women have been working beside him in the gospel. They have been serving with him, laboring to share the good news about Jesus. Paul knew and had experienced that the work of the kingdom was more powerful when God’s sons and daughters were united together in ministry. The problem is division and disunity in the body of Christ, and the enemy knows that when division is created, there is a loss of power.

I believe that one of the greatest ways the enemy has tried to disempower God’s work is to disconnect women from being engaged in ministry. This may be vocational, or lay ministry, but when there are divisions, disconnection and distractions — the life can  be drained out of God’s kingdom work. Paul’s cry is, “help these women!”

For the kingdom to move forward in the ways that God has intended, there may be those who, from time to time, need to “help these women!”

Let me put this in a practical sense. Maybe in today’s context this isn’t as much about the two women not getting along, but about the women no longer working shoulder to shoulder with the men in ministry. Too many Christian communities have interpreted Paul in such a way that the women of their churches are not allowed to partner with the men in ministry. I believe this is a theological problem that goes back to Paul’s statement about having the “same mind in the Lord.” God’s sons and daughters are to have the same mind — the mind that was in Christ Jesus! This is the incredible transformation in which we believe. Empowered by the Holy Spirit we are drawn into the holy koinonia fellowship of the Holy Trinity — both men and women. It is in this place that his passions become our passions. Christ’s passion was for the lost of this world and he wants his daughters and his sons engaged in that mission.

“Help these women!” This cry wasn’t just about a couple of women who couldn’t get along, but it was a cry for the church, for if someone didn’t help the women to be empowered partners in the ministry — the church would suffer. Champions are needed in the church today who will stand up and help women to be equal partners in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had to mention it specifically and I believe that the same request must be placed before the church today.

Five years ago my husband and I were serving at Grace Point Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We LOVED those people and LOVED that church. It was one of the best places in the world that one could serve in the kingdom. Our peaceful ministry there was broken one day by a phone call from Dr. Jerry Porter, General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. Chuck and I were in different parts of the world but he got us on the phone and in a three-way conversation and told us that he was appointing us a co-district superintendents of the East Ohio District. This had never happened before — and we would be the first pioneer couple to figure out what that meant to serve as partners together, sharing this position. My husband would tell you that pastoring at Fort Wayne was right in his sweet spot and he had wanted to stay there until he retired. He also knew that this was a moment in time — an opportunity, not for himself, but for women. It was that day that the Lord brought him to this scripture in Philippians…”Help these women.” My husband has felt that his calling now is to do all that he can to open the pathways for women to be engaged in ministry in such a way that the power of God is unleashed. It’s not surprising that along the way he was my greatest encourager to follow my call. Our daughter Cara is now an ordained minister and our daughter Christy serves as a licensed minister in her local church.

Somehow this call to “help these women” seems to be spreading throughout our family. One sister-in-law is now an ordained elder and another is coming close to finishing her requirements for ordination. Two nieces have their local preachers license. I don’t know what’s happening but I believe that God is doing something in the spiritual realm and we’ve had this entire group of champions who have gone out of their way to “help these women.” I’m grateful for Chuck, Fred, Bill and Jay — and now I add Iain, Justin and Evan —  who somehow have answered the call to become champions and have partnered so beautifully in the gospel.

The doors of opportunity do not automatically swing open for our daughters who are called! Paul knew the power which was unleashed when God’s sons and daughters partnered in the ministry of the gospel. We continue to need those who will answer the call, “Help these women!” It’s not about the women — it’s for the sake of the kingdom. I’m praying that more women and men will answer the call to become champions who open the doors of opportunity for the Spirit’s power to be unleashed through the partnering of all God’s children in ministry.

Prayer:

Lord, I am grateful for the champions you have placed in my life.  Amen.


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