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The Way Church Should Be

Scripture: Philippians 4:1-3

I. Church should be a place of fighting against enemies and evil.

A. Yes, the apostle Paul thinks that church should be a place of love. Notice all the terms of endearment that Paul piles on top of one another to describe how he feels about the people in the Philippian church in verse 1: my brothers, beloved, longed for, my joy, my crown. He loves the people in the church with all his heart. But Paul says that church is also a place of fighting. We are not fighting against the other people of the church whom we love deeply. We are instead fighting against enemies and evil.

B. At the end of verse 1 Paul commands the church to stand firm in the Lord. This is the language of the military when a commanding officer charges his soldiers to hold their position on the battlefield. The Bible is clear that there is evil in the world. The church will fight while it waits for heaven, and the church will pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come!” The church will also fight against the evil within itself. Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

II. Church should be a place of unity in the Lord Jesus.

A. Paul writes in vs. 2, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” These women just could not get along. So what would Paul do? We see in verse 2 that Paul begins by pleading with them. He entreats them, he begs them, to stop fighting. Such a display of disunity and division in the church is a scandal. Paul then encourages the receiver of this letter in verse 3 to help bring about that reconciliation. Our conflicts are not spiritually neutral. In fact, often conflicts in the church have our greatest enemy – Satan – behind them.

B. Paul then asks the mediator to help the women to “agree in the Lord” (vs. 2). They strongly disagreed about a certain issue. But they were both united about Jesus. If you look at the Jesus who has united you to God and to others in your church, you can find a way to agree and get along. It’s Jesus that is important. Other issues are much less significant than Jesus. Churches must stay united with Jesus and united with one another. Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”

Application:
Be reconciled first to God and then to other people.

Sources:
The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by Moises Silva, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson & Steven Lawson

Sermon Discussion Questions

1) Does it seem strange to you that God wants church to be both a place of love and a place of fighting against evil? What is the connection between these two things?

2) What does it mean that everything sad will come untrue for us as Christians? Why does this give you joy in the darkness of this current world?

3) Why is disunity in the church so scandalous? What are some practical things you can do to reconcile your broken relationships?