July 28, 2017

Euodia and Syntyche

Philippians 4:2-9

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.

—  Philippians 4:2

Euodia and Syntyche were faith­ful Christian women who had worked with Paul to share the good news of Jesus and start the church in Philippi. But now, for some reason that is not explained to us, they were in disagreement about some aspect of church life.

Politics in churches and in society at large has a bad reputation. But not all politics is bad. Good politics involves compromise without betraying one’s beliefs; bad politics tries to pull the rug from under the feet of one’s opponents.

Some say the Bible is against compromise because it teaches moral absolutes. But how could Paul expect Euodia and Syntyche to agree with each other if they did not work out a compromise that honored their core beliefs in the Lord? They already agreed on basic principles, but perhaps not on some details of applying them.

Sociologist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, explains that in many places churches have lost members during the past 50 years, but so have families, clubs, bowling leagues, and many voluntary organizations that expect members to make the effort to get along, to “be of the same mind.” Even the politics necessary for public, democratic life has suffered, as people lose the ability to relate to others who aren’t totally in agreement with them. How much is lost when we can only agree with ourselves, and like a turtle, draw into our shell!

Lord, give us the grace and flexibility, the patience and love to accept the give-and-take of life together. In Christ, Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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