From time to time I am reminded that church unity should not be taken for granted. In fact unity is not something that happens automatically. It is like a garden which requires much care and cultivation in order for the flowers and plants to grow and flourish. Unity is also very fragile; it could be easily undermined by little things like envy, rivalry, pride, selfish interests, murmuring, disagreements, gossips, criticisms etc.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a classic family letter. Like any family, disagreements, disputes and differences are inevitable. How does Paul resolve such disagreements in the Philippian Church? In Philippians 4:1 -3, we note Paul’s approach in handling disagreements of the two co-workers and leaders in the church.
If we want to be a healthy, growing and strong church, we must heed Paul’s instruction seriously and applying it consistently in our congregation.
Paul chose to appeal to them personally, directly and impartially (Phil. 4:2). He did not beat around the bush. He went straight to the point, in effect saying, “Hey, Euodia and Syntyche, get on with it, stop your bickering, be reconciled to each other and live in harmony.”
However, Paul did not stop there, he went one step further. He makes it clear that this discord cannot be viewed by the congregation as a personal matter. It needed the help of the whole church to resolve their differences (Phil. 4:3).
We must recognize that the task of being a mediator is not easy. We must not avoid intervening in the dispute simply because we are afraid of “meddling” or being called “busybodies.” We will bring glory to God, if we do it by bringing the parties involved to a face-to-face meeting and a heart-to-heart airing of grievances. Often it takes plenty of longsuffering patience and meekness before all the issues are resolved. Above all it requires a huge dose of God’s love that will bring about reconciliation and ‘cover a multitude of sins’ (1 Pet. 4:8).
Let us ask ourselves the following questions:
1. Are we striving to preserve the unity of our Church?
2. Are we peacemakers or troublemakers? Are we sowing seeds of peace and righteousness or seeds of discord?
3. Are we willing to forgive and ask for forgiveness? There is no unity without brokenness and humility. .
Rev. Mark Tay