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The Power of Diversity

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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.
(Philippians 4:2-3 ESV)

Paul has been writing to the Philippians to encourage them to be unified [Philippians 2:2-4], apparently because there were people in the church who were having issues with each other.

The Greek word translated “labored” here is a word we saw back in Philippians 1:27: συνατηλεο (pronounced: soon-ath-leh’-o) which is derived from the word for “athletics”. The prefix, “soon”, means “together”. The word picture here is of an athletic team working together for a common goal.

A major league baseball team is made up of 25 players, plus coaches. They spend about 8 months of the year together with little time off. Its safe to say that each person has their own personality and may not like every other man on his team. They may not have much in common with each other. But they must put aside those differences and focus on their goal of winning.

The same is true of believers. We saw that the church in Philippi was originally started by three very different people: a wealthy businesswoman, a brutal Roman soldier, and a young girl who was formerly a Satan worshipper [Acts 16]. People don’t get much different than that.

Since that time other people, including Euodia, Syntyche, Clement, Epaphroditus and “the rest” had joined the church in Philippi. More people means more diversity.

We don’t normally like people who are different from us. The world is filled with racism, sexism, and plenty of other selfish “isms” that divide us and make us suspicious of each other. Its hard to achieve under those conditions.

Yet the church at Philippi was growing. It had gone from three people to at least eight (and probably many more). That would not have happened if they had been focused on their individuality rather than on serving Jesus.

The church was meant to be a place that demonstrates the power of God. One way it does that is by being comprised of disparate people united in their efforts to serve Him in return for the great love He has demonstrated towards us.

Paul’s call to unity is still relevant today. Human nature hasn’t changed. We still tend to be selfish and want our own way. But the life of a believer is not about “me”. It is about “Him”. Just like as happened in Philippi, when people who are vastly different come together and work in unison for Christ it demonstrates the power of God to those around us.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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