THE UNITING TRUTH OF THE LORD
By Lay Pastor Budy Avianto
LemahPutro, Sunday, December 15, 2019
Do we long to be close to Him because of our faith? Just like the theme “The Uniting Truth of the Lord”, we are stronger when we unite; on the contrary, we will be weakened when we are apart.
In regards to the Tabernacle, the Book of Philippians refers to the Gold Lampstand with its 7 lamps and three branches on the left and right side (Exodus 37: 17-24). These seven lamps were filled with pure oil of pressed olives (Leviticus 24: 2). For it to light perfectly from evening till morning (v. 3), every morning the wicks had to be trimmed so that it wouldn’t be smokey when lit and the oil had to be always filled.
The pure oil pictures the Holy Spirit and number seven points to the seven churches who received reprimands, praises and so forth so that they would still hold on to the Word of God (Revelation 2-3) whereas the Gold Lampstand became the only thing that shone in the Holy Place – Jesus is the light of the world (Matthew 8: 12) and we are expected to be the same (Matthew 5:14) whether it is in our home, marriages, cities and even the end of world.
What was the message of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians (and us) through the Book of Philippians 4:1-3?
♦ To stand strong in the Lord (v.1)
“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved!”
Together with Silas, the Apostle Paul were shepherding the Philippians. On their way to Asia, the Holy Spirit forbid them to continue the journey; they were given a vision to understand that they were to preach the Gospel to Macedonia instead, and they went to Philippi, the foremost city of Macedonia (Acts 16:6-12). Paul built and loved the congregation in Philippi that he longed to meet them while he was in prison; that’s why he wrote the letters by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and now they are canonized as the Word of God.
The longing of the Apostle Paul pictures the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Priest, who loves His church and long to meet us. Do we also have the same love and longing to meet Him?
What is the proof that we love God? We stand strong in Him by loving His Word so that our life would be transformed day by day. If we don’t stand strong in Christ, our spiritual Rock (1 Corinthians 10: 4), we will be easily tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4: 14).
♦ To humbly maintain the unity and walk away from disputes (v. 2).
“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
The Apostle Paul told the congregation, Euodia and Syntyche to be one in mind and heart. He, as a pastor, didn’t consider the congregation as his subordinate but as his coworkers who fought together in spreading the Gospel. It is clear to us that the Apostle Paul had a humble heart.
Introspection: Do we all have one mind and one heart in our ministries, or do we feel superior compared to others? The sanctified children of God will produce the same light – no one shines brighter (superior) or less brighter (inferior). Beware, the light of the lampstand will be dimmer if we make ourselves superior among others.
Who could create discord in the church because of dispute?
- Euodia and Syntyche – the priests
- The congregation – just as happened in Corinth which separated them into 4 groups: Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ (1 Corinthians 1:11-12).
- The leaders of the church just like in the case of Paul and Barnabas. The Apostle Paul didn’t agree with the idea of bringing John (Mark) in his ministry because Paul was very disappointed that Barnabas once had left his ministry. The contention became so sharp that they parted from one another, Barnabas took Mark but Paul chose Silas and departed to preach the Gospel (Acts 15:35-40).
How could we avoid dispute from happening? We have to be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), to stand strong on top of Christ as our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4) and to obey the Holy Spirit who descended from Heaven (the Word of God). The Apostle Paul gave us an example of how he threw away all his pride, his profit and even saw them all as rubbish after he knew Christ (Philippians 3:4-8). His life was changed completely from a blasphemer, a persecutor and an insolent man (1 Timothy 1:12-13) to a loyal Jesus’ follower. He did all wickedness in the past as an unbeliever, even though he was a scribe and a Pharisee. Take heed, do not be someone who is able to recite the whole Bible yet not having faith in it; this makes us scribes and Pharisees who always seek people’s faults and create dispute.
Why do we have to unite? Just like those seven lights from the Gold Lampstand that became one and could shine perfectly, the leaders have to set examples for the congregation (cf. Philippians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 4:6). The priests and the church must do the Word of God so that the church will shine brightly in the middle of the darkness. Paul bravely asked the congregation to follow his example because he himself followed Christ.
We need to know that if we don’t hold fast on and do the Word of God, we will live according to the flesh (only set their minds on the things of the flesh) that leads us to death for carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:5-7). It is far different if we live according to the Holy Spirit, we will seek those things which are above (Colossians 3:1-2), we put to death the deeds of the flesh by Spirit (Romans 8: 13) and we will become the sons of God (v. 14).
To be able to have the mind and feeling of Christ, we first must have love, be humble and put others before ourselves just like what Jesus Christ had shown us (Philippians 2:1-8). So, dispute can be solved if everyone puts other before himself/herself. Do not act like Adam and Eve who didn’t appreciate and obey God who created them. Adam didn’t put Eve before him; same goes to Eve. They each had their own interests and none of them had humble hearts; as a result, they blamed each other and got kicked out of Eden. Because they did not walk with the Spirit, their ‘light’ got dimmer and dimmer and affected their marriage too that caused a murder to happen in their family – Cain killed his own brother, Abel.
Lesson: When a marriage is broken, a husband and wife shall not blame each other but return to the Lord, the Creator of marriage, and obey His word.
If we humbly do what the Word of God says, we will not stand on our self-righteousness that can end up in schisms. On the contrary, the Word of God is the truth. If we have faith in it, it will set us free (John 8: 32) from the flesh that leads to death for the Gospel is the power of God that can bring salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). We must remember that the righteous live by faith (v. 17). The truth is, all Scriptures is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3: 15-17). There are a lot of testimonies from Sunday school, proving children who used to be delinquent and rude were changed completely each year by the power of the Scriptures. That’s why we shall not turn our backs on the teaching no matter how hard it is for the sake of our own good (2 Timothy 4: 1-3).
If we faithfully obey and practice the Word of God, our spirituality will keep on growing – from faith, sanctified in hope, then love.
♦ To remind each other (v. 3).
The Apostle Paul not only gave exhortation using the Word of God, but also asked his true companion Sunsugos to bring peace between Euodia and Syntyche. We sometimes need to talk to a wrong doer privately. If it doesn’t work, bring one or two more persons to talk to him. Yet, if it still doesn’t bring a solution, we can bring the case to the church. However, it he insists on refusing the advice, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector (Matthew 18: 15-17).
Let’s stand strong in the Lord, obey His word of truth that sets us free from all sins so that our faith can grow, we will be sanctified more and more until we reach the top, that’s love. Of course, our love to God must be proven first by loving our brothers first (1 John 4: 20-21) so that there will be unity instead of dispute. If we walk in the Spirit, we will shine the light of Christ to brighten up the darkness in the world. Let’s be the children of light who help those who are still bound with sins and bring unity, not schisms, into our society. By doing this, we will please Him and glorify His Name more and more. Amen.