Monday, March 26, 2018
Philippians 2:1-5 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
When I was a sophomore in college my best friend and I decided that we would start a gospel team. We wanted to go out and do music ministry in churches. We signed up with the Campus Ministries office and began recruiting our musicians. Soon we had a piano player and 4 vocalists. All five of us were from different church backgrounds, yet we all had a desire to serve God in music and preaching. We selected a bunch of music to perform, but as we started practicing we realized we needed a name for our group. We wanted something unique, yet we wanted it to define who we were and the purpose of our ministry. We talked about our various backgrounds and we discussed the variety of churches in which we would perform. We decided that above all else we wanted our group to model unity in Christ, and our music and teaching to help the body of Christ become one – so we named our group “Christ’s Oneness.”
That name doesn’t market easily on posters and in church bulletins. It’s even a little hard to say. Maybe that’s why we never got very popular and never got to record an album or an 8-track tape (Yes, that’s how old we are.) But when we got questions about our name (and we got lots of them), we shared about the joy of spiritual unity that occurs between people when their focus is on Jesus Christ as Lord.
As we continue our study of the book of Philippians, we come to a chapter that describes the characteristics of spiritual unity. In this second chapter Paul clearly delineates what the activities and attitudes of the people should be based on their partnership with Christ in the gospel. Within the context of these admonitions, Paul gives us one of the most wonderful statements on the deity of Christ in verses 5-11. Jesus is the role model for all of us in living a joyful life of unity as servants of one another. But we will take those verses up in the days ahead. First, we need to look closely at verses 1 through 5, as they challenge us to consider our actions and attitudes in relationship to other people within the church.
From those verses we need to ask ourselves four very important questions:
- What is the basis for spiritual unity?
- What motivates spiritual unity?
- What does unity look like when it happens?
- How do we live in unity with others in our everyday experience?
To answer the first question, would you please consider these statements from Jesus Christ Himself in John chapter 17? Jesus is praying for the disciples and for all of us, knowing that while we are in the world we are to be the living examples of His truth and love. Of all the things he could have asked for to fulfill God’s glory, this was His priority – (I have added the emphasis)
11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one… I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them… My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
If you are like me when I read devotionals, my goal is to get to the end. We become so goal oriented that we skip over the lessons the Lord wants to teach us. So go back and read that passage of Scripture again – slowly and prayerfully. Look for application points to your life. Then ask yourself these two questions:
- “Am I living as an answer to Christ’s prayer?”
- “Am I a part of Christ’s Oneness?”
Reflect on this, and you will discover there is great joy in the unity we can have with ALL those who believe in Jesus Christ.