Does a song ever get in your head that you donâ€™t know the lyrics to? It happens to me all the time. And a lot of times it seems the songs that I donâ€™t know the words to are the songs that are hardest to get out of my head. Can anybody remember a song with some lyric in it that goes, â€œCos Breaking Up is Hard to do-ooo…â€? Please help me out. Iâ€™d really like to get rid of this skipping record in my head.
As a result of a conversation the other day, or something, I started thinking about that lyric. And I came to the conclusion that, in a way, itâ€™s kind of a big, fat, yucky lie. Sometimes I think itâ€™s a good idea to point out the fact that something is a lie. Sure, â€˜breaking upâ€™ is difficult sometimes, but if weâ€™re honest, I think staying together is a lot more difficult.
Thereâ€™s this brief mention in Philippians 4 of these two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Paul is encouraging them to â€œbe of the same mind in the Lord.â€ And he continues by urging other people in the church to help them sort their mess out. Apparently they were diligent leaders in the church, setting examples and serving God with passion, but when they had a disagreement, it threatened to tear the congregation apart. Breaking up might be hard, but sticking it out and sorting through your differences is a lot harder.
Why are so many churches splitting these days? Why are so many marriages ending? Why are life-long friendships getting dropped cold? Why are awesome rock bands calling it quits? I think itâ€™s because breaking up is a little easier to do than staying, fighting it out, and working it out. Paulâ€™s solution was pretty simple. He had previously encouraged them to avoid foolish disputes and those things which were unprofitable. He encouraged them to work it out, so that they could be of the same mind, in unity and purpose again. And he asked other people in the church to step up and help them work through their differences. (How beautiful does that sound? For people to step up as blessed peacemakers instead of sassy side-takers!) He went on to speak about rejoicing in the Lord, and went so far as to repeat himself: â€œI will say it again, Rejoice!â€
What was all that about? I think perhaps if we remember the positives, and all the things we have to rejoice about — our lives, our salvation, the goodness of God that has been displayed in our every waking day, and in our fellowship with one another — we might realise that even though there may be some significant issues to be worked through when we have differences, in the light of the goodness of God, and in light of the forgiveness weâ€™ve received, we have so much cause to be forgiving of others, and to make every effort to work through our differences and find peace again.
As he continues, Paul admonishes the Philippians to trust God with all their concerns, by prayer and supplication, with thankfulness, and to receive Godâ€™s peace, which can give our minds and hearts rest, even when we donâ€™t have all the understanding we would like to have. And before he concludes this section, he makes the wonderful encouragement that we focus on the things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. Instead of mulling over the things that are bothering us, we should count our blessings. Instead of recalling old situations to try to remember if we should take offense, mull over the goodness that God has displayed toward us.Â If we meditate on the good, Paul says the God of peace will be with us. In our own hearts, and bringing unity to our congregations. And that sounds like something worth fighting for.
The Sermon in a Nutshell: Thereâ€™s so much â€˜breaking upâ€™ in the world today. When you next find yourself in the midst of disagreement, I hope these thoughts can provide you with the encouragement to stick it out, talk it out, fight it out, and eventually work it out. The path of most resistance is often the one we ought to take.
Well said, Caroline. We looked at this passage in our community (nee connection) group at church recently, and it really challenged me. The more I look at church, the more I realise that we’ve been thrown together with a whole pile of people that we wouldn’t necessarily choose to hang out with, which can lead to a bit of discord. But the crazy part is that Christ says that it is our unity that will be a witness to Who He Is and what the Father has done (John 17, I think). I think that God deliberately brings diverse and often disagreeing people together in churches, and then pulls them into His love, bringing peace and fellowship that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Maybe that’s one of the ways He gets glory, because it’s pretty obvious that we couldn’t all love each other without Him!
And to finish, a little C. S. Lewis: ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ Tough, but always worth it!
Merry Christmas, too.
Where the hypocriteâ€™s work ends, there the true Christianâ€™s work begins. – Matthew Henry
Sometimes we need to live up to what is expected of us and really “dig-in” even when it means that it might get a little messy. Great post, sweetie. This is the stuff of real men and women. Breaking up aint as hard as grinding it out. You can have the pulpit anytime.
Gordon, you are speaking straight from my heart on this! What a beautiful and wonderful and messy challenge it is — agreed! But what a powerful witness when people who normally wouldn’t hang out together are unified and love each other in the body of Christ! Thank you both for the encouragement! Love the quote, Markus! Lord help us live it!