Agreeing in the Lord
Divisions corrode churches from within.
This is why Paul took seriously reports that two women in the Philippian fellowship had fallen out. He made space in his letter to “entreat” them to “agree.” And in his approach to addressing the disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche, the apostle gives us a helpful model of reconciliation. He makes it clear that we must remember we are bound together with our brothers and sisters “in the Lord.” This phrase explains who we are at our core: we are not our own; we belong to Christ.
So Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to remember their unity “in the Lord” and to submit to God’s instruction as it came through the apostles, just as we submit to God’s word now in the Scriptures. The Bible is clear that as Christians, we must first love and serve God. Then, as we seek to please God, He will so work in our hearts that we desire to serve our neighbors for their good, to build them up (Romans 15:2).
When we forget that we belong exclusively to Christ, we will very quickly begin to champion our own agendas, establish our own causes, fight for our personal rights, and get on our high horses to dispute with anybody who doesn’t agree with us. Dissension among believers can cause us to grow distracted by petty and often peripheral concerns, sapping the energy of the arguers as well as all who are caught up in the dispute. Instead of reaching out, the church then becomes inwardly focused. It is utterly incongruous for us to insist on our own way when we belong to a Savior who never did so. If Jesus had thought of Himself in the way we so often and so easily think of ourselves, then there would have been no incarnation, there would have been no cross, there would be no forgiveness, and there would be no hope of heaven for us.
We should not pretend that dissent doesn’t exist among believers. It does. But as a company of the redeemed, we are to work through our disagreements on the strength and foundation of our unity in the Lord. Our focus cannot remain on ourselves. In the healing and mending of fractured relationships, we must imitate Christ by initiating reconciliation.
This is a call to all of us. If you find yourself today in the shoes of Euodia and Syntyche, then the call to you is clear, though challenging: “Agree in the Lord.” Whatever else divides, your unity with other Christians is stronger. And if you find yourself today in a church with a Euodia and a Syntyche, then you are called to act in the way Paul commanded his “true companion” to act: to help those who are divided to reconcile. True love takes the initiative. True love gets involved. True love does not allow division to corrode; instead, it pursues the unity that builds up.
The High Priestly Prayer
1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.1 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them2 in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself,3 that they also may be sanctified4 in truth.
20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
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