Conflict regularly occurs in the church. If experience doesn’t teach this reality, then we only need turn to the pages of the New Testament for verification. Paul and Barnabas separate (Acts 15:36-41), divisions arise in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:10-17), accusations are hurled at apostles (2 Corinthians 10), pride disrupts (Galatians 2:11-14), personal disagreement festers (Philippians 4:2-3), sin abounds (James 2), etc. The church consists entirely of sinners, this side of glory; therefore, church life often includes conflict, this side of glory.
Yet, I think much of our conflict could be minimized or even dissolved by practicing a remedy we witness the Apostle Paul employing in the New Testament. Many of our conflicts would benefit from seeing them in light of eternity.
Paul often takes this tack in addressing Christians. He says to Euodia and Syntyche, “Agree in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2) In a similar way, he reminds Philemon that Onesimus was his slave in the flesh—that is the temporal world—but now he is a beloved brother, “in the Lord” (Philemon v. 15). He focuses Euodia, Synthyche, and Philemon on the eternal. In effect, he is making the case that they enjoy a relationship that is greater, deeper and fuller than the conflict itself. In fact, their relationship shall endure without end, whereas the reason for the conflict will end.
Paul offers an interesting comment to Philemon in this regard. He allows...
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