Disagreement in the Church
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.
The church in Philippi had been founded by women and more than likely continued to have strong female leadership. Two women in the church, Euodia and Syntyche seem to have had some kind of disagreement that was hurting the entire congregation. It doesn’t matter whether the leadership is male or female, if there are conflicts, it’s not good.
Rather than saying that this was simply inevitable, Paul addressed the problem. Disagreement in the church should be dealt with and the two in question should “be of the same mind in the Lord.” Sadly, it appears that they could not come to that place of union on their own and so Paul implored another faithful worker to help them. These women were hard co-laborers in the gospel and the disagreement between the two of them was hurting the rest of the church. Unity in the body was an important reflection of the nature of Jesus Christ that the world needed to see.
There will be disagreements in the life of the church. People will argue and fuss with one another along the way because we are different. We have differing temperaments, likes and dislikes but those should not become the defining factors when it comes to getting along with the body of Christ! Unity within the body reveals Christ to the world. When we don’t get along, they wonder what’s wrong with us.
Sometimes getting along doesn’t come naturally and so we may need a bit of an intervention. That’s what Paul was calling for, and intervention by his “loyal companion” who would be able to unite these two women in their struggles. Of course there are two important factors here. He is urging the two individuals to be of the same mind. There must be a willingness on their part to listen to an outside voice and to recognize that their behavior is destructive to the community. Second there must be enough love for the community that the “loyal companion” is willing to confront the two. Obviously they’ve already been quite publicly confronted by Paul in this open letter, and now the stage is set for further conversation.
Too often we are unwilling to confront the issues that are leading to division within the church. We allow people to go their separate ways and we’ve been doing this for so long that in some cases we are left with little to nothing within the body of Christ. Sadly it is often those whom the church needs the most that leave and those with bad attitudes that stay. For the good of the family of God we must be willing to confront our problems. In a Christ-like manner they need to be addressed and we must pray that those involved will have a willingness and desire to work out their problems. This is what should happen within the community of faith and the reflection of that unity will be stunning to the world.
We are urged by Paul for unity. We are the body of Christ, reflecting a unified and holy love to the world that surrounds.
Lord, may peace reign as we gather to worship today. Amen.