Building One Another

E. Stanley Ott


June 22, 2009

Dear Friend,

Do you know of Christians who disagree with one another? I know you do!

Writing the Philippians, Paul offers a word to Christians who disagree. He presses them to get it together and to do it with help from a friend: “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women.” Philippians 4:2-3a*

Paul’s next four comments are often taken separately but they form a wonderful whole. First, after asking the women to reconcile he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” It’s a direct word to people who aren’t exactly rejoicing.

Second, he speaks to the spirit in which they are to deal with their disagreement,”Let your gentleness be known to everyone.”

Third, he tucks this word in, easily skipped, with gigantic implications, “The Lord is near.” In other words he is saying, “Oh by the way, don’t forget, the Lord is near – near in location – close to you – and near in time – he is coming soon!” Christians in conflict often ignore this word! May the immediacy of our Lord’s presence motivate you to deal with your disagreements right now!

Finally is Paul’s famous promise about anxiety and prayer. While it does apply to any source of anxiety you may face, clearly it applies specifically to anxiety about an un-reconciled disagreement: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Have a disagreement? Deal with it! Get a third party to help you. With a gentle and joyful spirit pray to and literally trust the God who is near!

With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2009 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV