Rev. Penny Ellwood is the campus pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Blue Springs.
In our scripture passage for today’s GPS, division has become an issue in the Philippians church. Unfortunately, division in the church is not a foreign concept. We hear everyday of churches that are splitting over one issue or another. I would imagine that any division in the church grieves God’s heart, but especially when it happens over petty concerns that escalate out of control, when pride and self-centeredness get in the way of reconciliation. From the sound of Paul’s instruction, it appears that there was some pride and competitiveness at work in this situation. Satan just loves it when he can stir up conflict and pit us against one another.
Whenever there is conflict in the church it doesn’t just effect those immediately involved, it touches everyone, whether they know it or not. Paul spoke about this unity and diversity in the body in 1 Corinthians 12. He said, “There should be no division in the body [of Christ], but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
Division affects the whole body, even when that conflict is occurring between couples of the church in their private lives. As the body, we feel the effects of their pain and separation and we are challenged to provide support and encouragement that doesn’t ostracize or vilify one or the other.
This is when we need consider the following teaching of Jesus as recorded in John 13- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The distinguishing characteristic of our lives, which most clearly demonstrates that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, is our loving one another as He has loved us. This requires us to be generous of spirit, especially when facing the real, painful issues of life. Pastor Adam will be speaking more about this commandment in our last sermon of this series tomorrow.
Paul gives further instructions on what this looks like in Ephesians. He says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3). We keep the bonds of peace by maintaining a generous attitude of humility, gentleness, and patience and by undergirding one another’s weaknesses in love. If we keep the love of God as our motivation, we will not fail to overcome our divisions and move toward reconciliation and healing, whatever they may be.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.