Summary: In this text, Paul suggests three means through which we can live together in Christ. They summarize the content of this book.
LIVING TOGETHER IN CHRIST
A. Living together requires more than living in the same house with someone.
1. During the week of Christmas 2001, Christine and I spent a week at her brother’s in Marquette, MI, along with her sister’s family from Oceanside, CA, and her mother.
a. The planning for that week had begun a year earlier, and resulted in 13 of us living in Bud and Lorilee’s home for a week.
b. We had a great time while working around all the coats and snow boots that you need in Marquette at that time of year, and working out ways so everyone could use the two bathrooms.
c. The kids (six of them), who see each other less than once a year, got along fabulously, as did the adults.
d. There was only one negative exchange between the two sisters, their brother, and mother, and that had to do with some left-over feelings from their growing up years – you know how that goes.
e. Otherwise, we attended The Fellowship of the Ring movie together, watched movies on the VCR, some went skiing together, did some shopping together, took a long, grueling trek through the woods on a snowy day to see some ice caves formed by a waterfall (from which Christine’s mother almost could not make it back), attended church together, and did a lot of eating and visiting.
f. You have to make adjustments to live together like that, but even then we could not have lived together that way for long,. The house is not big enough for a permanent arrangement and none of us are geared for that kind of living.
2. I never had any great problem rooming with any of the four or five roommates I had during my college years, although each of them provided their own peculiarities that I had to put up with as they did mine but I did have to work a bit in rooming with one; his name was Bill.
a. You have to understand that I am a neat person, so with all my roommates my part of the room was always neat; Bill was not neat.
b. His room looked like a tornado hit it. That would have okay, but there were a lot of tornados that went through our room -- and always on his side.
c. He had to clean clothes and books off his bed to sleep; I do not think he could study at his desk, because there was no room; his closet was always piled with dirty clothes.
d. You could not exactly say we lived together; we just lived in the same room. To have really lived together we would have had to solve that impasse.
3. When marriages function like that, divorce is the result.
B. Life in the church can be like that.
1. You cannot live together in the church and in service to the Lord without working through disagreements and difficulties.
a. We have not done very well at that at Westwood for the last year or two: we have broken relationships with a former minister and his family, with the campus minister at UW and his family, with other former members who have left us to go to church in a variety of places (often determined by “whose side” they were on in the conflicts), have cut off support from a ministry the congregation had supported since that ministry’s inception, and have left some of us still here wondering how we feel about certain people.
b. Now I do not relate this summary of what has resulted in the congregation to assign blame. It is necessary, however, to learn from what has happened and to learn to live together and serve together in ways that will keep it from happening again.
c. It is also necessary for us to work at restoring broken relationships. I am committed to doing all that I can to make that happen, and we will find ways to make that happen. Some of you will be uncomfortable with working at that, but it should just be the way Christians do things. Some of you will want to leave the past alone, but when broken relationships occur in the church, it is never good to leave the past alone. The whole nature of the Gospel is about reconciliation, first to God and then to each other. If we will not work at reconciling, then we should question whether we have really accepted reconciliation with God.
d. That is why I have determined to preach through Philippians in the coming weeks. It will be one means we will use of learning how to live together in Christ and so to correct our recent problems.
2. Learning to live together in Christ was the greatest need in the Philippian church when Paul wrote them.