May 1, 2022

 

I plead with Evodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, Syzigus, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Paulus’ Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 4, 2 + 3)

 

Dear Readers,

 

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is currently writing history. His war in Ukraine is affecting the world. Many people are dying in this senseless and brutal war. Soldiers and civilians, women and children lose their lives. Mothers lose their children, children lose their parents. Hatred and violence are spreading. Millions of people are fleeing from this dreadful war, having lost their entire existence.

 

Only the future will tell whether the Russian president will influence world history. Many contemporaries mention his name in connection with Stalin and Hitler. Then his name  would indeed become more than a footnote in history books.

 

We do not find Evodia and Syntyche in any history book. The apostle Paul mentions them in his letter to the Church in Philippi. They are more of a footnote. Other than their names, we don't know much about these two women. But what we do learn is very interesting to us:

 

1.The two women quarreled with each other. The reason is not known. Everyone knows quarrels, then as well as today. There are also disagreements between Christians. Christians are not free from quarrels, unfortunately. Paul admonishes the two women to settle their quarrel. With their quarrel, they are harming themselves and the local church. A faithful co-worker should help to settle their dispute and create peace again. This is a reasonable conflict resolution even at this time almost 2000 years ago. Just as in our time politicians or Pope Francis wanted to mediate in this war. Unfortunately, without any chance.

 

We Christians , who believe in Jesus Christ, must always seek unity. If this is not possible on our own, we need a trusted person who can mediate. A wise Christian once told me: "A compromise is when both sides cry". Sometimes the only way to move forward is with a compromise. It's not about winners or losers. It's about settling a dispute where both sides give up something to regain a common future.

 

2.Paul knows these women personally. They were fighters for their faith. With a team, they had fought for the good news of Jesus Christ. They had fought so that many people could hear the gospel. Their love for God and for people made them fighters for peace and for life. But beware: whoever fights for the Gospel does not have people as opponents, but himself. He must become full of willpower. Other people need to fight their own inertia. The inertia of stopping to pray. The inertia of not going to church anymore. Others have to fight against pride or greed for power and money. Whoever loses these battles against himself can quickly become a quarreler within the congregation. But that is not what Jesus Christ wants. He wants the unity of his church. Jesus does not want divisions. He wants peace in his church.

 

3.Even though the two quarrelsome women still have a lot of work ahead of them, to settle their relationship, one thing is certain: God knows them and loves them anyway. Their names are written in the book of life. That is the very best thing that can ever happen to a person. Whom God writes in the Book of Life has an eternal future with Him. He can rejoice!

 

John writes in the Revelation (chap. 20, verse 12) about the Last Judgment:

 

 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in front of the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”

 

No one will escape the judgment of God. All injustice, all enmity against God will come to light. Those who believe that no one will call them to account will be disappointed. He will be disappointed who wanted to push God from his throne in order to make himself ruler over people and their lives.

 

What is decisive is whether Jesus Christ has written our names in his book of life. Along with Evodia, Syntyche and Paul, your name, dear reader, should also be written in the book of life!

 

I invite you to pray together with me:

 

Jesus Christ, you are my Savior and Redeemer. I thank you that you know me and love me. You know my name, know everything about me. I thank you that I am written in the book of life. No one can erase me from this heavenly directory of names. That makes me happy.

 

I ask you: make me a person who wants to live in peace with others. Forgive me where this has not succeeded. Give me the will and strength to promote unity in the community.

 

I ask you: lead me to become a person who can help others to settle their disputes. Let me be a mediator where walls or rifts open up between people. Please help me to show your merciful love to my fellow human beings. I will work for this with all my strength.

 

I pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. I pray for peace. Let reason finally come to all who are responsible for this suffering. Amen.

 

Thank you for listening to me. God bless you and keep you in body, soul and spirit. 

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© 2021 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main