Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ferguson on handling disharmony in the Church

" ...I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 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." - The Apostle Paul to the Philippians

I have come to the passage above (Philippians 4:2-3) where Paul addresses two women in the church who are at odds. He bids an unnamed member of the church to help them "agree in the Lord".

We all know how hard it is to get along with each other-even in the church, among Christian brothers and sisters. Sinclair Ferguson relays challenging insight in his little commentary on Philippians-

Christian fellowships are often at their worst when dealing with differences of opinion. In some ways biblically-based churches find it easier to deal with false teaching. But personal differences can be almost as deadly, dividing the fellowship, sowing seeds of bitterness, diverting attention from central issues to sometimes petty, peripheral concerns, sucking energy that should be employed in building up believers and in reaching out to the community. How effectively we handle these differences may say more about the biblical character of our church life than how we handle heresy.


Jim said...


It is both heartening and disheartening how often Paul admonishes church members to the effect of "be kind to each other" (Eph 4.32 & etc.).

It's heartening in the sense that modern Christians often have the misimpression that Christians in the early church all got along together. But early in Acts the apostles had to field complaints about who got more of what.

So we know that Paul and the Apostles were writing to Christians, and churches, just like us. They understood.

At the same time, it's sort of depressing. The Old Adam continues to have such a stranglehold on the Christian in this life, that it's a heroic struggle just to find Christ's peace expressed among his people.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I had a real disharmony experince this week,in fact it was immediately before the second service in the parking lot. I was able to hang on to the words of the sermon and plea with this brother to forgive me and that we work this out and possibly seek the counsel of the teaching elders. The words of the sermon were fresh in my mind as this person confronted me. I was not without fault, of course. But as you said in the sermon, these situations are almost always going to involve the sins of two people. We have worked through it for the most part. I have begged for his forgiveness and humbled myself as much as possible. At the end of the "conversation" he did say that he mis-judged me because he expected me to "blow my stack" when he told me what was on his mind. I don't think I would have, but with the words of the sermon fresh in my mind I was able to focus on the words and disarm the situation. Praise the Lord that we have both decided to set it aside. We are both uncomfortable with each other, but peace has been made. I am especially happy about this because he said early in the conversation that he was considering leaving the church because of me. Great words, Pastor Tony. They couldn't have been more timely. I will never forget this sermon

Woody Woodward said...

After the service I shared my enthusiasm on the meat of the sermon with our all wise and discerning Brother Ed Jennings. I loved his profound thought. “Woody, this was a sermon that may have been easy to teach, but one that is most difficult to live out. Now it’s our turn to go out and make it happen.”