Conflict In The Church Is Not New.
In fact, church conflicts are as old as the church itself. Where’s the proof?
Check out the book of Philippians, chapter 4. Paul addresses a conflict between two women in the Philippian church.
“2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Phil. 4:2-3)
Even though it’s just a couple of verses, I believe they hold 4 unique principles that can help aid us in times of church conflict.
1. Jesus Can Unite Us
Paul begs each women independently with an eager “I entreat…“, but the focus is the same. The one thing that both of these women have in common is “…the Lord.”
When we face conflict, hopefully we can pause for a moment and step back. Even though we’re in disagreement on some issue, we are in agreement on at least one level: Jesus Christ. And He can begin the process of unity.
2. Church Leadership Can Help Us
Paul asks his “…true companion…” to step into this situation. We’re not exactly sure who this is, but there’s an understanding that they’re in church leadership, on some level.
Perhaps Epaphroditus mentioned earlier in the book, or maybe Paul’s pastoral apprentice, Timothy?
When we face conflict, there may come a time where we need an intervention. It’s not a bad move to ask a pastor or elder to step in. By bringing in the perspective of a Godly overseer, we take a major step forward in settling the conflict.
3. The Gospel Can Remind Us
Paul notes that these women had served in Gospel-work before. With him, with Clement and with other Believers. The conflict doesn’t discount their value for the Gospel, once upon a time. Hopefully, they can get back there!
When we face conflict in the church, we’d do well to remember where we started. Ask the question, “What ministry opinion or decision started the discussion?” Hopefully, the opinion or decision started out of a desire to reach people for the Gospel.
By remembering why the discussion started, it might just pull us back on track. Or it might show us how not important the discussion really is.
4. Eternity Can Guide Us
At the end, Paul throws out a reference to “…the book of life.” In this, he shows his belief that these women are saved and that their eternity is secure. The conflict is a difficult situation, but it doesn’t impact their eternity with Jesus.
When we face conflict, focusing on eternity might just get us back on track. Is this discussion really going to be that important when we get to heaven? Will we really care? Who’s lives or eternities are in jeopardy?
These future-questions might just guide us to the end of the conflict and a positive path forward.
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Have you ever experienced conflict in the church? If so, how was that conflict resolved?