Yesterday, I suggested that Scripture should be a primary starting point for seeking God’s will when we’re in conflict with other Christians (or anyone, for that matter). Today, I want to draw your attention to one of the most important passages for discerning God’s guidance for Christians in conflict.: Philippians 2:1-11. On Monday I’ll offer some exegetical observations about this text. Today, however, I want to print the entire passage and then offer some guidance for how to let it impact your heart and your actions. I’m writing specifically for people who find themselves in conflict right now, though I hope you’ll find this to be worthwhile even if you’re not facing such a challenge today.
Here’s the passage from Philippians:
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death–
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
In light of this passage, if you’re in the midst of conflict with other Christians, let me urge you to do the following. And, frankly, you might well want to do this even if you’re not in a conflicted place right now.
1. Ask the Lord to speak to you through this section of his Word and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
2. Prayerfully, slowly read this passage. Read it at least three times. If possible, read it aloud. Let each word sink in. Be attentive to what God is saying to you personally. (Note: Don’t start applying this text to others and focus on what they need to do. Let the Lord speak to you about you.)
3. As God convicts you, go with it. Talk to him about it. Confess if you need to. Ask for his help to obey if you need to. Take time to talk with the Lord about how this passage should impact your life. (Photo: A crucifix in the cathedral of Barcelona)
4. If you are able to do so, share with at least one other believer what God has been saying to you through Philippians 2. Be open to encouragement and or correction from this believer (or these believers). Ask them to pray for you as you move to the next step.
5. Act upon what God has said to you through this passage. Be a doer of the Word, not a hearer only (James 1:22). You may find it very hard to do what God wants you to do. Be assured: He will provide the strength you need if you depend on him.
I’m going to stop now. Yes, I have a few things I want to say about this passage. But right now I think I should get my words out of the way. What you need most of all is the Word of God, brought to life by the Spirit of God. My reflections will come in due time, and that time will be tomorrow. But I truly believe that if you’re experiencing conflict with other Christians, and if you take time to prayerfully meditate upon this section of Scripture, and if your heart is open to God, then He will guide you to do what is right and honoring to him. You will begin to see the conflict you’re in from God’s perspective. And you’ll begin to see how you can be an agent of God’s peace at this time.
May the peace of Christ be with you . . . really!