Paul writes to his friends in Philippi “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Any community will hold up unity as a pleasant idea but mostly in a superficial and sentimental way. How do you see that expressed in our culture? Paul isn’t satisfied with that type of unity. Where’s the enemy of unity? Is it outside the church? Is the enemy somewhere outside of us or perhaps it’s much closer? Paul’s words from Philippians seems to say it’s actually found within our hearts.
What differentiates Gospel unity from the general kind that always seems to be outside society’s reach? The “encouragement” Paul finds in Gospel unity is grounded in our relationship to the Trinity. Our unity is not found in who we are or what we do but in who He is and what He has done. It is found in sinners made righteouse as they are found in Christ. As each of us becomes more and more aware of how much we have been forgiven and the greatness of the grace by which we have been accepted as sons we come into deeper relationship within the family of God. Just after Paul’s words quoted above he goes on to say of Christ, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Our unity, Gospel unity is found at the foot of the cross. I’ve not died for unity but Christ has and He didn’t do that so anyone would bow to me but only to the one that “God has highly exalted…. so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth.” Our heart level sin of selfish ambition, conceit and pride, the sins that kill unity were crucified with Christ on the cross and now by grace are being replaced with humility, and an ability to count others as more significant. Gospel unity says I now have nothing to defend, nothing to do but show my friends in Christ the same grace I have been shown and lift up Christ and his work in our salvation.
- David Ortiz