What should a church do when two people who love the Lord can’t see eye to eye? In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul pleaded with two ladies (Euodia and Syntyche) to agree with each other. He asked others in the church to “help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel…” He called upon the church leadership to help these ladies come to an agreement.
Have you ever been in conflict with a fellow Christian in your church family to the point that everyone knew about it? That’s what was going on in Philippi. And one thing that made it more awkward was that there was no escaping it apart from quitting church altogether. There was no “First Christian Church” of Philippi. Because there was no “Second Christian Church”. There were no denominations. So it would have been “First and Only Christian Church”. They had to work it out or every Sunday was going to be difficult.
Also, the word would’ve gotten out into the community. That was a culture where people did not have multiple sources of entertainment and travel to keep them occupied. So word travelled quickly. It’s always a bad witness when people outside of Christ hear about divisiveness between Christians. Consequently, some decide to bypass church and think they can just have a relationship with God without having to relate to other believers. And, as we see in the New Testament, Christians are to be in church life together. There is no “I did it my way!” mentality in the New Testament.
The key phrase though that governs the unity that Paul wanted to see in Euodia and Syntyche is something I left out at the beginning of this devotional. The key phrase is “in the Lord”. Paul said he was entreating them to “agree in the Lord.” Whenever we have disagreements with brothers and sisters in Christ, we HAVE to work toward unity. Division is not an option if we are going to please God. I know we can break away and go to another church. But I wonder if it is pleasing to God. Staying, causing trouble, being mean and cold and trying to get others on your side is obviously displeasing to God. So leaving may be better than that. But what is REALLY pleasing to the Lord is when He sees two of His children who have different opinions, setting those aside and finding common love and common ground in their love for Jesus and the good of His body the Church.