Posted in Christian Living, The Christian Man, The Christian Women

Unity: A Non-example

unity.nonexample

Wouldn’t it be cool to be mentioned in a published book? Your name in ink for posterity.

Wouldn’t being named in the Bible be even more amazing?

Think of Mary, promised to be mentioned whenever the Gospel was preached. Or Israel (once Jacob) who had a whole country named after him – until this day.

But there could be a down side.

What if what was written about you wasn’t very positive?

Think about Samson, whose flawed life is written in detail for us. Or even Jacob who was a big sneak – before God changed his name. (Probably the reason God changed it.)

There’s something written about unity in the Bible. And it mentions people by name.

I call it a non-example in my title because it shows us what NOT to do.

The Letter

The church in Philippi loved the Apostle Paul. He stayed in their city for many months, preaching, baptizing, and teaching.

While he was in prison, he wrote a letter of encouragement to them. In fact, it is the MOST encouraging epistle written by this prolific author of Bible books.

The theme is joy. How hearing about their faith brings him joy. How living like Christ gives joy. Rejecting false teaching allows us to answer to God with joy.

And then… “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).

The Ladies

Oh, my.

I imagine these two ladies sitting in church, excited to hear Paul’s missive read aloud. They’re smiling, nodding, imagining his voice speaking to them.

Until…he calls them by name. In front of the whole church.

I remember a preacher calling me by name in church. I was five years old and giggling with his daughter.

“Sharon and Paula, stop and listen.”

Guess what happened? First, every head in the building turned our direction. Every eye fixed on us. Those were disapproving stares.

We sprung away from each other and slunk down as low as possible in the pew. But, too late, our bad behavior had already been spotted. BY THE WHOLE CROWD.

That’s what I envision E and S (who wants to type out those names and see the red squiggles again?) did that day when Paul’s letter was read aloud.

They wanted to disappear. But all eyes fixed on them. Everyone knew they needed to get right.

The Lesson

The moral of this story is pretty obvious: don’t get called out by name in church.

What? No? That isn’t the point?

The point: Get along with your brothers and sisters at church so God won’t make an example of you.

Did I take it too far? Read too much into this single sentence?

I don’t think so.

Consider that Paul was hundreds of miles away in prison. How did he know these gals were fighting and fussing?

Maybe God revealed it to him. Or possibly when Epaphroditus showed up with the love offering from the church (Philippians 4:18), and Paul asked him how things were going, he mentioned it.

We don’t really know. We DO see that their contention was important enough for the apostle to address it. And since God inspired this letter, the contention had been noticed by Him and he wanted it to end.

I’ve rambled on about unity for months. Not because I’m an expert on the topic. Or I have an axe to grind.

Because unity in church is important to God.

I wanted to type it was the most important thing for a church to have. I believe that. Jesus prayed for it. Jesus told us the way to let others know we followed Him was by the way we acted toward each other.

If we don’t have unity at church, we can’t reach others with the Gospel. Or at the very least, we won’t want to bring them to our church once we win them.

Take a moment to reflect on your fellowship with every person who is a member of your church. Are you in unity with them? If there is a problem, what can you do to fix it?

Up Next: How Fellowship affects Unity

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Author:

Freelance writer and editor whose background in education and BA in English Language & Literature amps her love of all things books. Twenty years of parenting and 26 of marriage gives unique insight to her preferred audiences of women, young adults, and teenagers.

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