Church Conflict


2. I have a special appeal that goes out to jointly to Euodia and Syntyche: please, please, come to a common mind in the Lord. 3. (And here’s request for you too, my loyal comrade: please help these women. They have struggled hard in the gospel along side me, as have Clement and my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life,)  4. Celebrate joyfully in the Lord, all the time. I’ll say it again, celebrate! 5. Let everybody know how gentle and gracious you are. The Lord is near. 6. Don’t worry about anything. Rather, in every area of you life let God know what you want, as you pray and make requests, and give thanks well. 7. And God’s peace, which is greater that we can ever understand, will keep guard over your hearts and minds in King Jesus, – Philippians 4:2-9

You never know when it’s going to happen. Two people who one day are good friends, working alongside each other in the church, can suddenly get cross with one another. A sharp word from one, half-heard by the other: a bitter response, said hastily and without quite meaning it; then the slamming of doors, the face turned away in the street, the sense (on both sides) of hurt so great, and offense so deep, that nothing can mend it. I remember my grandfather, a pastor himself, telling me of such things. I in my turn have had to deal with such incidents, and I guess most pastors have done the same.

It is particularly sad and tragic when it occurs within a Christian community where the whole ethos ought to be one of mutual love, forgiveness and support; but the chances are that since each one will accuse the other of being the first to break the code, neither is prepared to back down. It then calls for a certain amount of shuttle diplomacy on the part of a pastor or wise friend before any progress is made.

But a word addressed in public to both parties might just break the deadlock (though you’d have to know what you are doing; it might make it worse.) We can assume that Paul knew what he was doing in verse 2. These things are better dealt with sooner than later.

Excerpted from Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters written by N. T. Wright
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