… is often the worst, in experience.
When I was a student minister, my Senior Pastor, Sam Keller, used to say 2 things to me:
- The best thing about being in the ministry, is … the people.
- The worst thing about being in the ministry, is … the people.
How do you handle the strained relationships in your life? We all know that to have a successful business the employees must work together; To have a successful football team the players must work together; To have successful government the legislature and senate must cooperate; To have a successful family the members must work together; To have a successful church we must work together; Very little is accomplished in life by yourself.
Success is never a one man show. When there is unity there is tremendous power and potential. The problem is people don’t always get along. How do you resolve conflict and increase cooperation without becoming a bland consensus of lifeless uniformity and seething passive aggression?
Would you believe, the answer is “contending“?
Although, it is not contending with each other, instead it’s about contending for each other.
Australian NRL Commentator Phil Gould recently observed elements of a tough and successful football team:
They encourage each other, support, cheer for, celebrate with, believe in, trust, fight for each other and play to their strengths. That gives us a great picture of the word Paul used here – play as a team. You have different roles, different positions, different gifts, abilities and strengths but play as a team!
In Philippians 1:27 Paul tells the Church to “stand firm” in the Holy Spirit, “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” The word “contending” describes the way athletes strive together as a team to achieve a common goal. How much more so, can Christians work together, contend with each other, for each other, instead against each other, for the sake of advancing the cause of the gospel message of Jesus Christ?!
The life Jesus calls us to is a life of other-ness – to be lived for others – just as he lived, and died. Gordon Fee in his commentary on Philippians says:
A crucified Lord produces followers who themselves take up their cross as they follow him. To live for Jesus, on behalf of Jesus is to live the same way he lived – and died – on behalf of others.
Paul wants them to see everything is the context of this. Everything! Their suffering, circumstances and relationships come back to:
WHO is Jesus, WHAT has he done, and WHAT DIFFERENCE does it make to us as a community.
Friendships are forged in the crucible of contention – contention with each other for a common cause. How have you seen relationships transformed positively through sharing a difficult experience?