Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.
Loved ones, 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to come to an agreement in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I’m also asking you, loyal friend, to help these women who have struggled together with me in the ministry of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the scroll of life.
I once sat through an incredibly long, very contentious sales meeting about the direction of the company. The four regionals were arguing with each other and with the national sales director and each one was desperate that their view would be the prevailing decision. At one point the president of the company observed that there were “five people arguing, but somehow, there were 30 opinions in the room.” Finally, when no consensus was reached, the president asked, “Do you all remember the company mission statement?” She recited it and left the room. It was a ‘mic-drop’ moment. They had become so overcome by anger and arguing for their territory that they forgot the mission.
Paul had a lot of experience with disagreements in the formation of the early church and he knew the discord and division that comes from this all too human behavior. Euodia and Syntyche had worked with Paul “in the ministry of the gospel.” They are recognized as leaders in their church and their disagreement was creating division. It doesn’t appear that this was a theological dispute, Paul would have addressed that in this letter, and he doesn’t say why they were arguing, his real concern is the division. He even asks a dear friend to step in and see if unity can be restored.
Paul knows the danger that division causes to a church that is already being pressured from the outside by hostile social and cultural forces. Churches don’t fail from outside forces, they fail from the division within. So Paul urges them “to stand firm in the Lord,” and “to come to an agreement in the Lord.” By doing so, he is reminding them of the bigger picture, the mission that they are called to do, to share the gospel and to make disciples. When we spend time embroiled in disagreement, we get side lined and the mission doesn’t happen. God wants us to cooperate to get the mission accomplished. When we work together, we multiply the Kin(g)-dom, when we argue we divide the church. We are going to disagree on some things, but we can all agree on our mission. Let’s agree “to come to an agreement in the Lord.”
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
There are a lot of disagreements happening in the United Methodist Church right now. It seems reconciliation is impossible. Hopefully we will be able “to come to an agreement in the Lord” and get back to the mission Jesus assigned to us. It’s more important than ever, as we move forward, that as a local church we seek unity over division. Have you ever been so caught up in a disagreement that you forgot your mission? We’re you able “to come to an agreement in the Lord” with the person? As we move forward, ask God’s guidance to help you keep your eye on the mission, and not the disagreement.
Prayer: Holy God, we seek unity of purpose to share the gospel, make disciples and stand firm in the Lord. Keep our minds and hearts on the mission given to us by Jesus and not be distracted by disagreements. Amen.