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Jun 23, 2019

Unity Through Conflict

Passage: Philippians 4:2-3

Preacher: Andrew Repsold

Series: Philippians--Roots of Joy

Keywords: church, forgiveness, conflict, relationships, unity, offenses, harmony

Summary:

This excellent message is very practical in how we live with each other in the body of Christ. You'll be challenged and hopefully moved to keep working at unity with others God has place around you.

Detail:

Unity Through Conflict

Philippians 4:2-3

6/23/2019

Introduction:

Sometimes I get asked if I liked being a pastor’s kid.

-positives (overall, I LOVED it)

-negatives (the way I saw some people treat others…lack of unity)

If you were to ask me what one thing I would have changed about my church experience, it would be what we are talking about today…that people would try harder to work through conflict and maintain a spirit of unity with the people they do ministry beside.

Today’s concept is SIMPLE to understand but DIFFICULT to put into practice…and something Paul says we will work on the rest of our lives.

The passage that I am speaking on is 4:2-3 and the theme is UNITY, specifically Unity with other people here at Mosaic.  (people who we “labor side by side with” for the gospel)

Let’s read it:

Philippians 4:2-3      (if you are visiting, it is the next verse in the book we are working through)

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the LordYes, I ask you also, true companion,[a] help these women, who have labored[b]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.

Summary:  Two believers have a conflict that is apparently public to Paul and his message to the congregation is to help these women to agree, in the Lord.  

We don’t struggle to understand the concept, but to apply it. So I have organized my talk to help us more readily and skillfully apply it.  (5 truths about conflict/unity in the church that the Bible teaches/presents and 2 applications)

TRUTH #1:

Conflict is inevitable in relationships.

Therefore,

Expect conflict when relating with other Christians.

I wish every person was told this when they started going to a church because they would instantly view conflict as something to be expected, not to be ashamed of.

The closer you work with someone,

the more likely you are going to experience conflict with that person.

(things are going to bother you: the way they dress, how close they stand to you when they talk, how much or how little they talk/share, what foods they like to snack on, what kind of music they like, what kind of worship music they like to have in church )

“That guy bothers me…”        THAT IS NORMAL TO FEEL.

The topic of this sermon then, is NOT how do we prevent conflict, or insincerely gloss over conflict, or try to appear to anyone who might be visiting that we have no conflict here.

The topic is…

How do we experience GREATER UNITY through conflict?

How does Paul advise the Philippians (his churches), and thus us, to experience unity, a deeper unity, through conflict.

Truth #2: When handled correctly, Conflict can be the Catalyst for greater Community (intimacy).

The reason is because it requires vulnerability. And any time you are more vulnerable, you have the potential for greater intimacy. You also have the potential for greater hurt.

So why is it worth risking greater hurt (especially with someone who bothers and annoys you)? What is the value of this?

Greater intimacy AND a profound witness of the gospel to the world.

Greater intimacy…

Matthew 18:15-18

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Examples of this being true in my own life.

  1. Ben and myself
  2. (Eric and myself)
  3. An individual in the congregation who I offended.

A profound witness of the gospel to the world

John 13:35

JESUS says…

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

1:27   “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel...

What is with this talk of “worthy of the gospel”?

Truth #3: Our unity, as believers, is a primary evidence to the world that the

power of the gospel message is true.

People will recognize the existence of God and the love that eternally exists in the relationships between the trinity by seeing how God transforms us in our relationships, uniting us in himself.

Romans 1:16 English Standard Version (ESV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Lesson: In other words, our unity is more important than our preferences.

This does not mean that we ignore Biblical truth for the sake of unity (unitarian), it means quite the opposite, that we must seek to clearly know what the Bible speaks on all issues so that we can identify when something (a conflict) is a truth worth dying on and when it is just a preference.

Application #1: Seek to know what the Bible teaches on all issues so that we can identify when a conflict is worth addressing and when it is just a preference or evidence of personal spiritual immaturity.

This can be really tricky to discern, it does indeed take spiritual maturity to be able to discern these things, so I have made some examples of conflicts that we can practice discerning this together.

examples:

  1. You find yourself annoyed with my style of preaching. Too heady, or you don’t like how fast I talk, or the way I use my hands. (my style) versus…
  2. You find yourself bothered by my speaking because I never acknowledge my own brokenness, examples always put me in a good light or I subtly tear down Katie in my examples.
  3. Music seems to glorify the band, versus orient our focus and love on God (but we don’t like the speed of songs, or number of hymns, or number of contemporary, or instrumentation.)
  4. Coffee or treats are no longer available and that upsets you.
  5. Someone says something in a conversation (or in passing) and it really bothers you (example…”this food is terrible” and Collen walks by and hears it. So much so that you find yourself nursing resentment and bitterness and having imaginary conversations with this individual where you work yourself up into a defensive heat.

In order to properly pursue unity, we must understand what things are preferences and what things are Biblical truths.

I hope you have gotten to a point where you value unity.

How do we work through conflict when it is worth addressing? (the spirit and the steps)

 The spirit of…

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Truth #5: Unity cannot be achieved without SUBMISSION from all parties.

Ephesians 5:21 English Standard Version (ESV)

21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Practical steps…

Matthew 18:15-18

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

  1. address a brother or sister who sins against you
  2. Share this conflict with 1 or 2 more people to help build unity
  3. Share this conflict with the church

Application #2:

Apply these three steps when in conflict with someone at Mosaic:

  1. Address the person you are in conflict with. Make known to them your hurts and frustrations.
  2. Invite a few people (more as is necessary) in to offer guidance on how they think the conflict could be resolved.
  3. Submit to the guidance offered.

Final invitation…

when in doubt, seek guidance from you trust and respect. Remember that in the original text, we are to “help one another”.  Know that the tendency is to avoid conflict.

Final story…Eric and myself?

Benediction:

Psalm 133 

133 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity![a]
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Bonus Quote:

“Unity in the essentials. Liberty in the non-essentials. Charity in everything.”