We Are to Be United as the Body of Christ
by Gordie Coffin
Contention in today’s culture (particularly politics) seems to be at an all-time high. Factions and self-seeking agendas mark a clear line of delineation between people.
This, however, is not how Christians are to operate. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear in his letter to the Philippians.
In the opening chapter of Philippians, Paul promotes unity and unselfishness among believers. His unifying language includes words such as “participation” (v. 5) and “partakers” (v. 7).
Paul reinforces his call to unity in verse 27:
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Clearly, Paul wanted the Philippians to know there are to be no factions among them.
In light of the opening chapter’s call for unity and unselfishness, Paul opens chapter two with four “if” arguments for spiritual unity:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion (2:1).
Theologian John Walvoord summarizes this verse by stating that a:
Christian who is exhorted by Christ, encouraged by the knowledge of His love, experiencing fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and possessing a true heart of compassion and attitude of mercy is equipped to realize spiritual unity.
In other words, God’s grace leads Christians to unity.
Paul exhorts the Philippians in verses two through four:
make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Unity and unselfish behavior are to be the aim of every believer because it is the appropriate response to God’s grace.
Paul then provides the supreme example of love and humility in subsequent verses. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, humbled Himself by becoming a man and dying a criminal’s death for the sins of the world (2:5-8).
If every believer were to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ, there would be perfect unity among believers.
Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of dissension that characterizes our world, the believer is to humble himself and look out for the interests of others; particularly of other believers. This was the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such humility will result in a unified Church body that honors the Lord.