"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I ask you, 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." Philippians 4:1-3 TNIVThere are a couple of emphasis to see in this passage. The first is the "reward" that Paul is counting on as a result of his ministry among them. He considers them to be his "joy" and his "crown." In his expectation of what is his in the Kingdom, Paul counts people as his joy. They are not just the reason for it, they are it. As long as they abide in Jesus, he has joy, and he has a crown. This points to the entirety of the Kingdom as relational. Everything about it is relational. Its dwelling, its blessings and scope has to do with the heart of each individual mutually dwelling in relationship with the Lord and with one another.
That is why it is by grace through faith. We can only live this way through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we would just avoid those we differ with and go our merry way. Here we see another way. The Kingdom is relational.
The second item is the difficulty in the relationship between two women who have served the Lord in his gospel along with Paul and Clement and many others. Notice, he urges his companion (Syzygus) to help them solve their differences. He does not regard the women in another category of servants. They have contended at his side. We are not told their particular type of contending, but the language would lead us to believe they also taught. This, of course, is just a guess. Since he uses the same terminology in regard to them as he did to Clement, whom we know preached the gospel. Anyway, I find it interesting that we usually consider them less than the preachers when they may have well been such. Just some thoughts. Their relationship was in trouble - so the Kingdom needed to help - regardless of their role. However, their roles seem to have been prominent.
When we become inclusive in our thinking, many doors open that have been closed. Relationship requires an openness that legalism will not abide. Paul is busy including everyone. It is this inclusion that is important - not really their role.
As a minister of the gospel, and a woman, I often encounter exclusion simply because the church has for so long had only male leadership. I realize the difficulty if one believes that only men were to proclaim the gospel publicly and believe that is Biblical. One must be true to one's own heart before God, and I bless all who hold to that conviction. However, please Beloved Ones in Jesus, let us all get rid of the attitude of exclusiveness in our Kingdom relationships. The women are not less - even if their roles are different. No one is less but all are one in Christ Jesus.
Nothing is quite so painful as exclusion. The Kingdom must be inclusive in all areas. The way we treat others is the way we will be treated. So I appeal to all - let's get rid of any attitude and action of exclusiveness in any area. The Kingdom is relational.