In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul is encouraging the believers at Philippi to be unified. He exhorts them to have the same mind, same love, and be in full accord and of one mind (v. 2). Right before that, though, he tells them to “complete my joy.” What should we take away from this?
It delighted Paul to see the church at Philippi be in unity. He took joy in it! Church, that should be our same attitude, and not just in the local church, but the universal church.
When We Secretly Love Division
We will never admit it, but there are times when we see division happening–which plays to our incessant need to get in on the action–and we secretly enjoy it. If there is a controversy, we take it upon ourselves to join in on the dysfunction and strife. I’ve seen this many times, for example, regarding the social justice or complementarianism debate.
Newsflash, Christian: just because there’s a hot-topic debate doesn’t mean you have to join.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to join the discussion. My point is that a lot of the time, we see a controversy heating up and, because some of us are prone to controversy and argumentation, we automatically jump in on the debate. Sometimes, we secretly love the division.
But let’s forget about the social justice debate or anything like that. Let’s go even further “in-house.” What about when all we do is argue and banter over secondary, non-essential issues? How many times have you seen a debate over the millennial reign of Christ? It is absolutely absurd that we give our attention to these controversies. And it’s the controversies I’m speaking of—not polite, gracious discussions over these topics.
Or, even worse. How many churches in America have split because the leaders decided to take out the pews and replace them with chairs? If that makes you leave a church, there are bigger issues at play than pews or chairs—you need to check your heart.
Striving for Unity
I know we’d all say we take joy in seeing unity. But, like I said above, I think sometimes we secretly enjoy division because it gives us excuse to get in on the fight. It plays to our flesh. It feeds our sinful inclinations.
But if you say you take joy in unity — which you should — then start striving to see unity. Unity surely won’t happen if you don’t strive for it. Why is that? Because the church is made up of saved-by-grace sinners, this means that unity won’t always come naturally to us. We have to be intentional in our efforts for unity.
Not only should we want to see unity to show the unbelieving world what happens when God reconciles sinners to Himself and to others, but we should also want to see unity because we know Satan hates unity. Satan wants nothing more than to see Christ’s body malfunctioning.
When I say let’s strive for unity, I’m not saying at the expense of truth. We don’t sacrifice truth at the altar of so-called “unity.” We are not united with liberal Protestant churches, or other religious faiths. We seek unity amongst brothers and sisters in Christ—those who hold to the historical essential doctrines of the Christian faith.
Linking arms with different religions is not unity, friends—it’s compromise. And it shows more about what you believe rather than your desire for “unity.”
So, church, let me leave you with this: we have been called by God in salvation and now make up the body of Christ. We should want to see His body unified, in harmony, working together properly. That glorifies Him. Be joyful when you see that happening!
Take your eyes off yourself and look to Jesus, then unity will come.
Soli Deo Gloria