FREED: To Peace in Conflict | Philippians 4:2-9

June 17, 2018 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: FREED | From Prison to Peace | Philippians

Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 4:2–9

Christopher Rich – June 17, 2018

FREED | From Prison to Peace | Wk 11

FREED: To Peace in Conflict | Philippians 4:2-9

Introduction | How do we engage with Conflict?  

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we’re continuing our series FREED: From Prison to Peace.

When are you in conflict? There is conflict with others, with the world, with God. How are we to deal with conflict? Where does your head and heart go when conflict happens? Does it feel like you’ve been moving along and when conflict happens it just puts up walls in your soul that keep you from being full present and engaged with what you’re called to. It can feel like everything else is on pause until its resolved. We feel stuck, trapped, imprisoned. It can keep us from fully enjoying and having joy in our lives and it begins to lead to anxiousness as we consider when is the next shoe going to drop. When is the next flair up? When will there be relief? How do you respond? Do you disengage? Do you flee, do you fight? Do you endure with long seasons of melancholy when you consider the state of certain relationship? Much of this is to be expected. We live in a world where sin has impacted ever person and that means every person we are in relationship with has been impacted by sin, and every relationship we are a part will have sin in it because we’re in it. How do we deal with it in the church? Wait, I thought we are all brothers and sisters? I thought we were citizens of the same kingdom/country? Shouldn’t we be in harmony at all times? Well there is “should” and there is what is, we’re still sinners saved by grace who are not yet perfect. So it’s never a questions of if conflict is going to happen but with when and who? Where is the real battle to be fought?

What tools do you lean on when you find yourself in conflict? What does it look like for Christians to be unified? What does it look like for them to split apart? In Christ, we are FREED to Peace in Conflict.

PART I| Conflict in Gospel Community | v2-3

Philippians 4:2-3 |I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored 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.

This book has been hitting themes of humility, unity, following examples of people who have been saved and changed by Jesus. Endurance, how do we forget the past that imprisons us how do we grow in present maturity. Each time there is a big concept laid out there is a tangible example given. Humble servant like Jesus, like Epaphroditus. In each key theme we are called to press on in the Gospel (strive endure hold steadfast to the truth of what Jesus has done in our place) and we’re called to press in to Gospel Community (these are your family, this is your citizenship.) And it all sounds so good and so grand, what an awesome concept! I wish I could be part of a place that is saved, changed by Jesus, living for Jesus. I am sure it will be forever blissful! There is the ideal of gospel community and there is the practice of it. This is where the rubber meets the road. Real sinners are being saved, real broken people are being changed, where real people are walking out the mission of the Gospel. Real people, have real problems. As much as the church is supposed to look like a good fleet sailing in formation there is the reality of ships running into each other. Conflict does happen, but unity is to be striven for. So here’s an example in Philippi:

Euodia and Syntyche are not getting along. There is conflict in the church between these two women. They’re members….. But they are also high profile enough that they would be known in the church by name. There conflict is significant enough that Paul doesn’t even have to explain what he’s talking about. It’s likely clear enough that no one has to guess what he’s referring to. No one is like wait what? They’re not aligned? It’s also significant enough Paul knows about it in prison (maybe from the messenger) The conflict has not been contained, it’s festered a bit.  Who started it? Who is at fault? Who needs to confess sin and have the other forgive them? Apparently, in this case they’re both to blame. This is a twofold plea. Each, both are entreated, urged, implored, pleaded, or exhorted to agree in the Lord. From each side or person is to engage with this. It’s not tell Euodia to give it a rest or Syntyche needs to back off and know here role, it’s a plea for both of them to come together. When we are in conflict, we pridefully assume the person we are in conflict with is the one to blame so we don’t engage with it, or we try to nobly take the blame for all of it and then open the door for future conflict when the other hasn’t owned their part. How do we agree?

Remember your shared identity- This conflict has created a lack of unity that is in contradiction to their identity. This “in the Lord” isn’t some Christian phrase to dress up a sentence, it the truth of where their unity comes from. To agree (have harmony) be of the same mind, be unified. He has to tell them do have these things because they’re not in agreement and harmony. Peace is gone when unity is missing.  Back in chapter 2 we are called to have the mind of Christ because our identity is now In Christ.

Remember your shared community – Who is supposed to work this out? Each of these parties have been pleaded with to agree but their conflict has affected a larger community, so it is going to be engaged with by others in the community. He doesn’t tell them to work it out on their own and then they can come back. Others may be needed to help these women walk in unity. The other members/leaders/Christians have a role in mediating or showing them they each need to agree. We are all called to live out a ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5) this includes and applies to people in the church. They’re part of the church, so it’s not trying to fix the ongoing feud between a couple of people who don’t know Jesus.

Remember your shared mission- The unity is for the sake of the Gospel. These people are fellow Gospel workers.  All of this is they have labored side by side, they have worked together, they are part of the same church. What an awesome thing that God can and does use people who are not aligned, not on the same page maybe even don’t like each other and brings them together for the purpose of advancing the Gospel. What an even greater testimony when people can endure conflict, resolve conflict, and then join together for the greater conflict of bring the Gospel to a world sin that is in conflict with a holy God.

Remember your shared destiny- These two individuals, the ones called to engage, and the community is a group of people whose names are written in the book of life. Names not groups or families or nations but NAMES!!! Yes they have a shared identity, community, mission, but the biggest think that ties them together is their names are written in the book of life!!! They’re going to spend eternity together! In heaven, not hell so stop acting like you’re in hell now. There is a general unity and harmony that should characterize our church. But this general culture is lived out by individuals. It’s you get along with you and vice versa. The battle for Christian Unity and unity in the Gospel is going to be fought person by person with each brother and sister. Why don’t we do this? We want to ditch out. We forget why we’re together. This is difficult!

PART II | Fostering a peaceful Gospel Community | v4-7

Philippians 4:4-7 |Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The following verses are instructions given immediately after talking about a conflict between two Christians so it’s not a stretch to see these may be intended to be ingredients for conflict resolution. If not, they are clearly instruction, motivation and power, that will foster a peaceful Gospel Community. If we are going to participate in bringing peace in our relationship and community we need clear instructions.

Rejoicing always (x2!) - Freed to rejoice in all circumstances.  Called to rejoice x2. Hey take heart be of good cheer. Be pleasant, but it’s much more than that! When are we to rejoice in the Lord? “I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…Always!” What about when… always!” This needs to be repeated, because we are great at finding the exception to every instruction. We are called to have a disposition of rejoicing over/in the character and nature of God. We’re reminded joy is not happiness, it something that comes from supernatural experience. We are not naturally on our own Joyful. When we say they enjoy life, they are people who are responding to what is great about life. Joy is a response to greatness engaging with us at an internal heart level. Joy flows out from what God is doing in us (it’s internal) Happiness is external response to what is outside of us. One is based on our circumstances, the other is based on our identity.

Let your Reasonableness be known to everyone. This is gentleness, patience, forbearance, actually enduring with the conflict or challenging situation in ways that bring the intensity of the conflict and emotion down.

This is a bit of flexibility and flow in our relationships with one another opposed to rigidity. When it comes to the truth of the Gospel, in standing frim, rigidity is great but in actively living out relationships it can be repelling. We are to have a Moderation of attitude Considerate of others (wait like have the mind of Christ that is yours to consider others more significant than yourself? Na!) This is going to be made evident to everyone. This is something that you don’t just believe about yourself but something that must be displayed to others. Conflict or unsettledness can bring out great intensity. The intensity the energy should be in rejoicing to God. The gentleness or chillness should be in how we engage with others. God can handle our intensity best. How can we have this disposition? We have been given all we need:

We have the Presence of God - Why do we do this? How can we both actively rejoice in God and be gentle? What is our motivation? GOD IS NEAR!  The LORD is at Hand. God is present in the situation (Holy Spirit) He is observing He is engaging  “OH God is in this…” what does that mean? He is not here as Judge but here to bring peace. The third member of the trinity is in you, and you. The God who gently welcomed you into His family has called you to be reasonable and gentle with others you’re in conflict with for the purpose of Unity. Because God is near we can be told to rest and avoid anxiety. So we are not to be anxious in what? Anything, even in conflict in the church. Jesus actually commands us not to be anxious. Just like Joy just like unity, we have to be told to not be anxious because we are. God is here. When we react to our circumstances they can easily unsettle us. They can easily lead us to doubt the nature of our relationship with our self, others, the world, and God. There is so much capable of doing this to us but everything that could cause us anxiety is smaller and weaker than our Mighty God who is present with us.

We have our Prayers to God. Instead of Anxiousness, we are to pray (in everything, in situation of conflict that rob you of Joy (so we rejoice) that cause us to be anxious (so we don’t be anxious) We’re not just told (change your attitude, change your outlook) at certain point you need to change your conversation partner. When you’re in conflict or other challenging situations you have so many conversations with others, but what about the conversation you have in your head. When the conversation is only in your head it’s just worry. Worry without prayer is really just praying to yourself. You’re having the conversation with yourself and you have no ability to change anything “Self” what is going on, Self fix this! Self fix them, self fix me. How hopeless and isolating!  Prayer is the Christian’s antidote for anxiety – James Montgomery Boice

Prayer is an exclusively Christian act. Prayer is not generic spiritual musings. It is not the incantation of pagans. Prayer is as simple and as powerful and basic and deep as “talking to God” But when you consider who God is that is when Prayer takes on a deeper meaning. Pray is the opposite of worry because you’re bringing your worries to the one truly capable to bring peace.  We have to remember why we have access and ability to pray. Because Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. Because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through Him. It’ matters not as much what you are praying, but to and through who are you praying? Simpl Jesus-less prayer is talking to air.

This is what communion with God means and looks like deep relationship of communication. This is a conversation that should be on going. Meaning if you haven’t prayed in a while it’s gunna feel a little awkward like when you haven’t talked with someone in a while and it’s like the longer you go without the bigger the wall is. When things are flowing and there is a depth of relationship you can dive in and pick back up where things are. A gospel community is one full of individuals in constant conversion with God.

Pray for others supplication – (humble petition) Peace with others, and having an others orientation comes when we are praying not simply for ourselves but for other. This can lead us to greater boldness in what we’re praying for.  The more we’re praying to God for others the bolder our prayers should be because they aren’t on or own self interest but they are for the interests of others. You’re in conflict or disunity with other believers consider praying bold prayers…. For them. Pray with Thanksgiving because God has already resolved the greatest conflict between sin death and perfect God/life. Our attitude and disposition of thankfulness. We can have attitudes of thankfulness in what God has done and is doing. God has heard you in your prayer, why? Because He’s near. He is near enough to hear. Because God is the only one who can resolve the conflict we pray and He brings peace.

We have the Peace of God - God doesn’t promise to change circumstances but He does promise change minds and heart. What we’re promised is that we’ll be given peace that overwhelms anxiousness and produces great rejoicing, even in the midst of conflict! How? Well, is surpasses all understanding (bigger than we can wrap our heads around) that is beyond comprehension.  Transcends what we typically consider is possible. The power of peace that we’re engaging with, and entreat to is marshalled for…

We have Protection from God – The Peace of God is sustained by Protection from God. In Christ we have a guarded mind and heart. We can be protected from becoming fatal casualties in conflict. He will keep out anxiety and say NO this is not your place to dwell, peace belongs here now. To guard our minds and our hearts, because this is the biggest battlefield this the greatest possibility of threat. Wrong belief.  Belief about others who we are in conflict with. Belief about God’s powerful ability to restore, about God’s ability to transform not just your mind and heart, but others. Jesus is guarding our hearts and minds.

PART III | FREED to Focus on the Good | v8-9

Philippians 4:8-9 |Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The endurance of Gospel Community in peaceful relationship comes not merely from being guarded or by avoiding anxiousness, to rejoice even in difficulty to just maintain ground or hold out in a cold war until Jesus comes back. We are to press on in greater peace with God, self, and others by redirecting our hearts and minds away from what is infuriating and towards what is excellent and worthy of praise.

True- not things that are false (don’t slander someone in your mind or consider a picture of them you have that is incomplete.  OR things that are true but not profitable to dwell on. What is reliable, upright and dependable? Is what you’re believing about God true?  Is what you think about the other people accurate?

Honorable- (Noble) This is something that is the opposite of deplorable or vulgar. Nobility is like dignity. This person is made in the image of God what could be more noble.  

Just (Right) Righteous. Good, in line with what is universally known as correct. Are you are you being fair and right in how you’re accessing this situation?   

Pure – free from defilement. What part of this person are so good you don’t have to caveat it with, “well they’re not the strongest here.” It is free from defilement, it’s not impure. Have you been pure in your

Lovely – What is recognizably attractive about this person. What has a value that can plainly be seen as good by many. Pleasurable, enjoyable. Few are off put by this part of their nature nearly everyone enjoys this like a good fragrance.

Commendable – (Admirable) Worthy of a good reputation. Well-spoken of, you many not like someone but likely others do, find out why.

When we are in conflict or to build the bond stronger in a Gospel Community, we should focus on anything that is excellent or anything that is praise worthy about others. We ponder and considering these things deeply because then it’s harder to consider all the warts and annoyance of it all.  If/when you cannot see ANYTHING that is worth of praise with your brother or sister you’re in conflict with, you likely are not in a good place in your mind and heart and so blinded by the conflict you need to repent. Even kids told to say something nice about another kid they’re fighting “uh… nice shirt”.

We are going to be visited by conflict, we are going to face people we don’t get along with. We are called to greater unity and peace with other Christians and we can have that because we have been given peace with God in Jesus. When we look to Jesus we see the one who is the embodiment of eternal truth, who is gloriously honorable, who is supremely just, who is spotlessly pure, who is compellingly lovely, easily commendable, and is most excellent and worth of our praise. We look to Jesus, we think of Jesus, we meditate on Jesus AND we put into practice all we’ve learned, been shown, and taught knowing we have access to and are being held (held together) by the God of peace. The presence of the God of peace is greater still than simply having the peace of God. God keeps giving us more and more as we walk with Him, follow Him and look to Him. God who is peace, who brings peace, who restores peace, will be present with you personally and with us collectively when we Trust Jesus.