Have you ever (secretly) wished that everybody in the church would be more like you? Most of us probably wouldn’t admit it, but maybe we’ve looked down our noses at some church folks and wondered why they’ve got the issues they do.
Truth is, if everybody in the church was like you and me, we’d still have problems. It’s just the way it is.
Last week I wrote about how much I appreciate the sweet fellowship of God’s people, and I believe that, but because we’re flawed, the church will always have problems to address.
Even the church at Philippi—the one Paul loved so much—had something going on that the apostle wasn’t happy with. Here’s what he wrote:
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life (Philippians 4:2-3).
Apparently, there were a couple of ladies in the church who weren’t getting along, so Paul decided he’d address them directly. Can you imagine being in church on the morning one of the church leaders read this letter?
I’m guessing Euodia and Syntyche wanted to crawl under a pew—or whatever our pew’s first-century equivalent was. Every eye in the house turned to look at them.
What was the problem between them? We have no way of knowing for sure, but I’m reasonably certain that it was like most church squabbles I’ve been around. It wasn’t a big deal.
My experience has been that most of the time when people are upset, it’s not over something overly consequential, like denying the deity of Christ or adding animal sacrifice to our worship assemblies.
It’s over color-of-the-carpet kinds of issues, or somebody said something to somebody about someone, and brother so-and-so is very unhappy.
Paul’s advice? “Agree in the Lord.”
I don’t think Paul is saying that we have to agree on everything. Instead, he’s saying that we need to agree on the essentials and not make a big deal out of the rest. I suspect we’d have fewer Euodia-and-Syntyche kinds of problems if we all did that.
In your devotional time this week, pray for the unity of the church. Pray that God will help us all to agree in the Lord, that we’ll be able to distinguish between stuff that’s worth arguing about and stuff that’s not.
Peace within the family of God is worth giving up some of the pettiness that occasionally characterizes followers of Christ. —Chuck