CONFLICT RESOLUTION: PHILIPPIANS 4:1-3 (Philippians 4:1-3)Andrew de Kanter, January 28, 2018
Part of the PHILIPPIANS series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. - Phil 4:2
Unresolved conflict can make things very uncomfortable and awkward. Can you imagine how awkward it would have been when Euodia and Syntyche heard these words for the first time? It is likely that this letter would have been read out loud before the gathered church of Philippi. I can imagine them sitting on opposite sides of the room, nodding along as the letter was read to them and then realizing that, in large part, the specific reason why Paul had chosen the words he did up to this point was to apply it to their conflict! Talk about awkward...I wonder if they heard any of the rest of the letter! Why would Paul do this? I believe he did it, because he understood how damaging unresolved conflict can be to a local church and the advancement of the gospel.
When there is conflict between Christians, it misrepresents the nature of God and the nature of the gospel message. This is why Jesus prayed, "I do not ask for these only [the apostles], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:20-21). We serve a God who exists as unity of three persons, and, through the gospel, he is calling us into this union him and with each other. In turn, this lets the world know what God is like and what his gospel is ultimately about. It is about relational unity with God and each other. When Christians fail to have unity, it stamps a big question mark over these truths for those who are watching.
This Sunday, we are hoping to hear from our Father about how to recognize unresolved conflict and what to do about it. Euodia and Syntyche were struggling with it, and many of us struggle with it, too.
Make us one as you are one,