A friend broke the news to me the other day. A group of women I care about who lead a ministry I care about have become divided. The group has split, resentfully. So many women find themselves caught between the two sides.
Those were hard words to hear. Heartbreaking.
I don’t want to see the good work God is doing be maligned by what amounts to personality conflicts and differences of opinion.
I wish I could say I have heard such a story only once in recent months. Sadly, I’ve heard it multiple times. Different groups, same story. The broken unity among Christian women seems to be everywhere.
The devil is at work, sisters. He has prowled, and he has devoured. The carnage lays beneath his dancing feet.
We have broken the unity among us
We seem to take every opportunity to disparage another woman – on social media, behind her back, in whispers. We label it innocent, rationalize it as venting or standing firm for our principles.
We tell ourselves the discord is the right thing to do, but Scripture says exactly the opposite. The Bible stresses striving for unity among all believers and in fact gives multiple examples of believers who were of like mind doing amazing things in God’s name.
We are never to dwell on the negatives and flaws (real or perceived) of another woman, but rather we are to focus on the power and glory of God, which holds us together.
In Philippians 4:8, one of my favorite Bible verses, the Apostle Paul explains what we are to set our minds on as we strive toward like-mindedness:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Paul doesn’t tell us to think about such things because they make us happier and give us a more positive outlook. He tells us to dwell on these things because they are characteristics of God Himself: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy.
We are to lift our mindset above the things of this earth and mediate on the things of the Throne.
In this, we become like-minded. We foster unity in the Church.
I confess here and now, I’ve failed at finding the lovely in other Christians and in life more often than I’ve succeeded, but it is a goal to which I gladly press.
A plea for unity among women believers
As I revisited Philippians 4:8, I considered the word “finally” at the start of that poignant verse. “Finally” implies there is a “firstly.” It implies that the instruction to find the lovely is springing out of something.
I rewound to the start of Philippians 4, and verse 2 was a punch to the gut:
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.”
Paul specifically calls out two people in the church at Philippi who were not acting in accordance to God’s ways when it came to conflict resolution. Two people whose feud had become so disruptive to the church that the Lord ensured it was not only captured in Paul’s letter but canonized forever in the Holy Scripture. (How would you like to be them?)
Any guesses what gender these two people were?
Who knows what caused the feud. We know very little about these two women other than what Paul adds about them in verse 3: they both “contended at (Paul’s) side in the cause of the gospel.”
They were both God-fearing women. They were both leaders in the young church, and they served alongside men like Paul and Clement.
And they were fighting.
The fact we DON’T know what the fight was about is a pretty good indication it was not of eternal value.
How many of these divisions are happening right now in our churches, ministries and families? How much gain has the enemy made right under our noses? How much damage have we done to our legacy?
Sisters, we must do better.
We are EXPECTED to do better, as women of God, as leaders in the Church and as models for the next generation (Titus 2:4-5). What example are we setting?
We have forgotten that God instructs us to do the HARD WORK OF UNITY, for His glory, for His purposes.
We have forgotten we all have the same mission, and that we are from the same bloodline.
We have forgotten we are sisters.
Sisters do not exclude. Sisters do not condemn. Sisters do not begrudge.
Sisters love. Sisters exercise grace. Sisters forgive.
As I tell my two young daughters routinely: “Sisters stick together.”
It won’t always be easy, clean or tearless. But it is worth it. Unity in Christ is always worth it.
Because sisters are always worth it.
Let’s remember who we are. For the Lord’s sake. For our sake. For the sake of our daughters.
I plead with you, so far as it concerns you, live in peace.
And if you want practical advice on how to resolve conflict from a biblical standpoint, please check out “Five Steps for Taking Fear Out of Conflict Resolution” over at the Faith Beyond Fear blog.