Good-bye Chapter one. Chapter two here we come. Go read Philippians Chapter 2.
Now re-read Phil. 2:1-2
<> In the if-then statement Paul writes, what is the conditional part (the “if ____” part)?
<> What is the resulting command part (the “then ______” part)?
<> How do we accomplish the command?
Making His Point
Philippians 2:1 almost makes me laugh. Paul is being pretty overdramatic. I’m going to script it out as a dialogue so you’ll see what I mean:
Paul: If being united with Jesus gives you ANY encouragement AT ALL . . .
Philippians (or us): Well of course being united with Jesus is encouraging Paul.
Paul: Yeah yeah, I know . . . and if understanding the love of Christ is even the TINIEST bit comforting . . .
Philippians (or us): What do you mean IF the love of Christ is comforting? It’s the only comforting thing I’ve ever known Paul!
Paul: Yeah I know -- I know it is. . . but think about it, if you have hung out with or heard from the Holy Spirit even for a MILLISECOND in your entire life. . .
Philippians (or us): DUDE. Yes, Jesus is encouraging. His love IS comforting. There IS fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Why are you making me want to punch something or curse?!
Paul: Oh, ok . . . well in that case, then you should go ahead and be unified.
Oh snap. To me it almost has the sound of a wife looking at her husband and saying, “If you have any shred of love whatsoever in the entirety of your heart, then fulfill my every desire and make me complete by getting me a yogurt.” Wait, what?!? The condition seems to outweigh the resulting command. But, Paul did not make a mistake here. (Especially seeing as He was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God according to 2 Timothy 3:16) Paul is using dramatic language to make his point:
WE DON’T VALUE UNITY ENOUGH.
<> Is there ANYONE in the body of Christ that you are separated from – any relationship where friction reigns instead of unity in Christ?
<> What is the reason for the friction?
<> When you hold up that reason and compare it to the encouragement of being united with Christ, the comfort of walking in His love and the fellowship of His Spirit, does it hold any water? Does it really matter at all?
I think Paul’s dramatic language is aimed directly at our American misunderstanding of the importance of unity. Being like-minded sounds like one of those secondary commands – right down there with not complaining or gossiping. You know, things that are commanded by Scripture but since our society doesn’t really care about them, we shouldn’t and Jesus probably doesn’t either. Right? Wrong.
I think we need to let Paul’s dramatic language rattle our cage. I think we need to repent of our American misunderstanding of unity’s value. I think Paul’s language here demands that we ask the questions, “Why is unity so important Paul? Why do being like minded, having the same love, and being one in spirit and purpose matter so much?”
<> Why does unity matter?
These are just a few thoughts to get you started., and you should feel free to search the Scriptures and let the Holy Spirit impress more on you.
1.) Unity destroys personal pride. To walk in unity with others means you have to get over the fact that you are wrong sometimes.
2.) Unity protects our joy. When you are walking in broken relationship with people who you are supposed to be united with in the love, spirit and purpose of Jesus, your joy starts to erode. As your joy erodes, your worship erodes. As your worship erodes, your missional heart to love others erodes. Fighting for and protecting unity with believers in your life just could be VITAL to you obeying God in your life.
3.) Unity promotes dreaming. When we really start to combine our resources and our brains and our lives in spiritual and emotional and physical unity, God’s dreams start to take shape. Think about how many people have been given a vision of what God wanted for their life and failed to obey because they had no support from other believers. When God gives us dreams and visions for His kingdom, He wants other citizens of the kingdom to be involved in revising and encouraging and helping accomplish those dreams.
4.) Unity is Jesus’ hope for the church. He prayed for it in John 17:11, 21 and 22. He wants His church to unite across and around WHATEVER issues used to divide us, and loudly proclaim “JESUS IS BETTER THAN ANY REASON I USED TO HAVE TO NOT LOVE THESE PEOPLE.” He wants it because that is a radical statement that the world does not know what to do with. We are not uniting for unity’s sake. We unite for the sake of Christ being worshipped in the world.
<> Do we have any excuse to continue thinking that unity doesn’t matter?