Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Philippians 2:2 …complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
The story is told of two men riding a tandem bicycle up a steep hill. After much effort, they finally made it to the top of the hill. The front rider said, “That was a tough ride.” To which the second rider replied, “Sure was, and if I hadn’t kept the brake on we might have slipped backwards.”
There seems to have been a serious problem of disunity on this bicycle team. Their struggle illustrates a problem that also exists with Christ’s church today – they did not agree on the goal. One thought the goal was to reach the top of the hill; one thought the goal was to keep from going backwards.
This section of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi deals with the subject of Christian unity. Yesterday we answered the question, “What motivates unity?” Today we dive into the second of three questions we posed on Monday, “What does a person look like who is striving for unity in the church?”
There are four spiritual characteristics that must be true of an individual’s life for unity to happen in a larger group of people. Paul lays them out for us in Philippians 2:2.
- They share genuine like-mindedness with other believers. “…of the same mind…” A word of warning is very necessary at this first point – being like-minded does not mean agreement on theology or lifestyle choices. Do not let legalism be validated by a misunderstanding of what like-minded means. So many churches have disunity because they seek to force compliance with a particular set of beliefs or a code of conduct. That’s not Paul’s intention. What is really meant by like-minded is that we seek a genuine understanding of the nature and character of God and let His Spirit dictate belief and behavior. Like-minded people focus on “things that are above, not on earthly things.” (Col. 3:1-2) When the individual people in a church all focus their minds on knowing God, then the Spirit of God brings unity.
- They seek to love others equally. “…having the same love…” There is no place for favoritism in the body of Christ. Love is not rationed out based on our perceptions of status or worth. There is no place for racism in the heart and mind of a person motivated to unity by the nature of Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul says, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.” And in Galatians he says, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Unity requires equality of love.
- They submit to others. “…being in full accord…” John MacArthur defines this phrase as: …to live in selfless harmony with fellow believers. By definition, it excludes personal ambition, selfishness, hatred, envy, jealously, and the countless other evils that are the fruit of self-love. Unity requires the sacrifice of self on the altar of serving others. A church that is filled with people who have servant hearts is a unified church.
- They strive toward a singular purpose. “…of one mind…” This phrase means, “to speak motivationally about the shared understanding of God.” In other words, as a result of knowing God we know God’s purpose, and we encourage one another to focus all of our energy into accomplishing that purpose.
Paul’s description of the spiritual priorities of united people forms a complete circle. In seeking to know God we share a genuine like-mindedness that expresses itself in unconditional love and acts of service to one another as we encourage one another to fulfill the purpose of God that is constantly being revealed through a deeper understanding of God. This is the life cycle of a healthy church.
But as we all know and have experienced, that circle can be broken. Disunity does happen. Are we willing to look at ourselves as the possible cause? We must! What part of the circle of unity needs attention in your life right now so unity in your church can be achieved and maintained?