Philippians 2:1–2 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (NKJV)
Unity is one of the most important and passionate needs of the Church and Christianity as a whole. It is Jesus’ great passion for His Church. It’s not unity for the sake of unity… but unity based on God’s Truth. Not unity of feeling alone. Not unity based on “tolerance” (which is different from “liberty”). Not unity in human effort or wisdom by itself. Unity in all ways based on TRUTH.
The opposite of unity (discord, strife, contention, division) is one of the most dangerous and frequent problems in Christianity. Any good Pastor/Shepherd will tell you that disunity is lurking around every corner, ready at all times to rear it’s ugly and destructive head. We can be doctrinally sound, fervent in service, active in good works, and still have it all sabotaged by a lack of Godly unity.
There are two primary types of disunity: disunity in Truth (I capitalize Truth when I specifically mean “God’s Truth”) and disunity in relationship. Disunity in Truth means Christians who are not unified in Biblical doctrine as measured accurately by God’s Word. We can have unity in relationships but if it is not based in accurate Scriptural truth, then it is futile unity. This is rampant in the Church today as we seek unity to the disregard of God’s Word (especially the inconvenient, unpopular, or culturally difficult parts). We seen unity based on pragmatism, resulting in huge churches and Christian movements that are devoid of substance or fundamentally flawed in doctrine.
On the other hand, we can have right doctrine (unity in Truth) destroyed by disunity in relationships and fellowship. Pride, gossip, ambition, quarreling, cliques, and favoritism will make ineffective any unity we may have in doctrine no matter how Biblically solid.
Being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind…
The Apostle Paul gives us a definition/description of unity…
- Like-minded: literally “thinking the same way.” This is not a robotic brainwashing but a worldview/mindset that reacts, considers, and contemplates life filtered through a common measure: God’s Word.
- Same love: an equal love for all, not based on human feeling or superficiality but rather on the foundation of God’s love for all His children.
- One accord: working in harmony, responding in unison like a flock of birds or a school of fish that all fly/swim individually, and turn and flow and move as a unified whole as if by some invisible string that ties them all together.
- One mind: being intent on the same path, the same purpose, and the same mission.
Not An Option
- because we have consolation (receiving comfort) in Christ,
- because we are comforted by love,
- because we have fellowship in the Spirit,
- because we receive affection and mercy…
- because of those, be unified.
“Fulfill my joy” is a nice way of saying “because God (and I, Paul) have been so good to you, you need to repay that goodness via unity.”
Sometimes Paul gave Churches/Christians a butt-whippin’ when they needed it, rebuking them and using tough love. Here though, we find Paul being the gentle parent, the caring shepherd who is appealing to the Believer’s gratitude: “since God has been so good to you, don’t you think you should respond by being unified together in love and purpose?” There are times for both: tough love and tender encouragement (tender but not OPTIONAL).
Consider whether or not you help your Church’s unity or hinder it. It’s a very important responsibility and duty for all Christians. It’s a great blessing to participate in unity, or a great sin to be guilty of disunity.