Diversions in the church!
Many years ago, somebody spoke to me about ‘’the diversions in our church!!’’ Well, she meant divisions of course. I wasn’t aware that we had a significant problem, but I do recognise how trouble between members of a congregation can divert us from our true work.
There is some indication that there was division in the church at Philippi. At least it was there to a degree. It would appear that two key women were involved. Perhaps there was the possibility that people would take sides and line up behind one or other of these ladies and escalate the trouble. Good leadership moves towards problems and not away from them. Paul wanted to nip this thing in the bud. He had already written about the kind of attitude that leads to unity (2:1-11), and here he makes a strong appeal to the women in question to put down the rope and stop playing ‘tug o’ war’. He also asks for another person, who he refers to as ‘’loyal yoke-fellow’’ to pitch in and help broker the peace. (We don’t know who he is.) Jesus said: ‘’Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.’’ (Matthew 5:9). It is an enormous privilege and responsibility to be a peace-maker. It’s what the Son of God Himself came into the world to do: to make peace between God and men, and between all kinds of people as they trust in Him. But clearly it can be costly. Are there those you are aware of who are at odds with one another? What can you do to ‘’help’’ them? They are no doubt good people who have just lost their way a little. Go and fetch them back.
You will see from the pleading language in (2) that unity in the local church is important beyond words. It is vital that we remember where the real enemy is, and we fight him and not each other. It is ‘’in the Lord’’ where we find our centre of unity. If we will focus on Him and not on ourselves we will pull together for His sake and not pull apart.
Really good people can go wrong. It’s sad to see, but it happens. Paul does not write them off. He remembers their service record as stout-hearted soldiers of Christ. He honours what they have done in the past. They have fallen into sin, but he has no doubt that their names are ‘’in the book of life.’’
‘’These women worked for the Message hand in hand with Clement and me, and with the other veterans – worked as hard as any of us. Remember, their names are also in the book of life.’’ The Message.
‘’There but for the grace of God go I.’’ We cannot afford to feel superior. We ourselves are fallen, frail and fragile. Let’s go and deal gently with any who have gone astray – treat them how we would want to be dealt with if we were in the same circumstances (Galatians 6:1).
‘’I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn’t want his children holding grudges.’’ The Message.
Watch out for the ‘diversions’!
Prayer: Lord I pray for the true unity of your church that the world may believe in you.