Philippians 2:1-2. 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.
Let’s be honest, we all want to surround ourselves with those people who think and believe exactly like we do. We want friends with the same mind as us. We want our posts to get “likes” on social media. We want to hear people say that we’re right. We want to be justified by others in all our opinions and viewpoints. I know I do. Why? Because this is how I feed my self-righteous mind. My selfish ambition or conceit.
But the great irony of it all is that the more we seek unity with the people who have the same mind as us, the more we will eventually be divided. Why is that? Because there is no topic that we all completely agree on. Politics. Theology. Social issues. Even minor things like sports, or movies, or music. We all want to have our own unique opinions and so the deeper into an issue we dive the more disagreements we find. And eventually those disagreements will divide us. Our selfish ambition (I must be right) or our conceit (I don’t want to be wrong) will splinter us more, and more, and more until we either learn to scream the loudest, or reduce who we interact with down to the 3-4 people who will always agree with us (until they don’t).
It is obvious from reading Philippians that there were clearly arguments causing division in the church (Paul even names names). And so Paul makes an appeal for unity. For humility. For love – complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Unity in the church was Paul’s greatest request. Imprisoned, chained to a Roman guard, and facing possible execution, Paul asks only that the church complete his joy by being unified. But not just unified in their own self-generated ideas or opinions. And not just unified by giving up their unique selves or personalities, or by simply “keeping the peace.” No, Paul is asking for real unity of mind, soul, and spirit.
But how? Because of the one thing that will never splinter us and never divide us. The one thing that is bigger than any one of us and can therefore contain all of our differences and at the same time cement us into One – the love of Christ.
The “If” at the beginning of Philippians 2:1 literally says “Since,” or “Because.” Christian this is what we have in Christ. His encouraging friendship. His comforting love. His same partnership with the Spirit. And on top of that – we have his affection for one another. Do you believe this? Can you identify these graces in your own soul? Are you experiencing this life and love of the Trinity? This deep love for your brothers and sisters in Christ?
The answer is YES! If you are in Christ, you are. Dig deep if you have to, but it’s in there. And if Christ’s love is in us (it is), and if we are in partnership with the Spirit (we are), and if we have affection for each other (we do), then we can live in such unbreakable unity with one another that nothing can divide us. If it wasn’t true would Paul ask for it? Would he give us this list of commands:
Be of the same mind.
Have the same love.
Live in full accord (literally, “as one soul”).
And again – Be of one mind.
How can he possibly command this level of unity? Because he’s not asking us to conform our thinking to one another. We aren’t told to sit around the table and debate our best ideas until we come to some sort of compromise or consensus. Paul’s not talking about writing a new constitution each time we go to church. He’s not even talking about choosing where to have lunch after church.
He’s talking about what every Christian can agree on – the gospel of Jesus Christ. The one mind, one love, one soul that we share is his own. You see, we’re not conforming to one another, we’re conforming to Jesus. We’re not compromising with each other; we’re agreeing fully with one another that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (2:11). We’re not changing our minds to please each other, we’re all meeting together joyously at the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
“To live is Christ” is to find a joyous and beautiful unity within the body of Christ as we share his mind. A mind that is set upon love from God and affection for others. A mind that is centered on the love that is now our very life.
Do you feel unified with other Christians in your church, or divided? Why?
You in Christ
In Christ you have the comfort, love, fellowship and affections of Jesus himself. Are you experiencing these things as unity within your church?
Christ in you
How can the mind of Christ empower you to work toward overcoming tension in your church?
Playlist: The same mind.