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Peacemakers and Troublemakers (17 of 20)
Series: Forever Living in a Whatever World
Introduction: You've all seen the Walgreens' commercials. "Welcome to Perfect USA," a place where it never rains on weekends, money grows on trees, and people always turn life's lemons into lemonade. Of course, we don't live anywhere near Perfect. So for the rest of us there's Walgreens."
I thought of another version. "Welcome to the Perfect Church, a place where sermons never last more than ten minutes, young and old like the same music, and everybody always gets along. Of course, we don't go to a church anywhere near perfect. So for the rest of us, there's Philippians."
It is sad but true. Church folk don't always get along. It was true at Philippi. It is true here. It was true in the church where I grew up. One of my earliest church memories (I may have been 7 or 8) is of a squabble that erupted in one of my home church's board meetings. I never did know what it was about. I just remember that the meeting took place after a fellowship dinner. The women and kids were cleaning up in the basement when we heard loud voices upstairs. Then one of the men came storming down the stairs. He told his wife to get their stuff and their kids. They were going home and he wasn't coming back. And he didn't for a long time.
I've seen shouting matches in elders meetings--not here. I've heard of deacons coming to blows in the parking lot. I've heard stories about arguments between church ladies that we can't repeat in church. I'll bet you have too! Sometimes time heals church fights. Sometimes it doesn't.
At Philippi, the problem was serious enough that Paul addresses most of this thank-you letter to the topic of Christian harmony. It is subtle at first. He calls them to live as one, to be humble and put others first. As he builds up steam, he challenges them to quit grumbling and arguing. Finally, as he nears the end o ...
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