Summary: A sermon on unity from Philippians 2:1-11 (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, Rediscovering Community, chapter 12 Graciously United, pages 308- 314)
Read to the congregation If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
No, I haven’t lost my mind. This book illustrates “if... then” statements. If you give a mouse a cookie, then this and that will happen. These are called conditional statements, if this is true then this naturally follows. In our Scriptures today Paul gives us a conditional statement.
Last time we talked about unity from a negative viewpoint: 4 barriers to unity. 3 out of the 4 points came from 1 Corinthians where there was much disunity, division and discord. This morning we are talking about unity from Philippians. Paul letter to the Philippians is one of my favorites because it can be called the epistle of joy. The Philippians church was much the opposite of the Corinthian church, much unity, harmony and serving together. No church is perfect, however, and we find this in the Philippian church: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.” Philippians 4:2
To combat this Paul presents church unity as an outgrowth of a Christian’s unity with Christ. In the original Greek, the opening words of verse one include a “therefore (find it in NASB).” See therefore then find out what it is there for. This therefore connects the opening paragraph of chapter 2 with the closing paragraph of chapter 1. In the closing paragraph of chapter 1, Paul encouraged the Philippians believers to remain faithful in the face of difficulty. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” Philippians 1:27, NIV. Paul challenged them to remain faithful, and to remain faithful together.
Thesis: Discuss the “if” of this conditional statement, the “then” of this statement, and from this the attitude that leads to joy and unity
The “If” of this conditional statement (Vs. 1)
Paul reminds the Philippians of the basis for unity- their relationship with Christ. Paul introduces 4 convictions concerning relationship their with Christ, each beginning with “if.”
1. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ. Reminds me of: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Romans 6:3-5, NIV.
2. If any comfort from his love
Hatred is full of misery; love is full of joy. “Love makes the world go round.”
Paul knew that Christians are hard to get along with. Paul also knew that the Christian had a duty to see more than the other Christian’s faults. We must also see the person, and we must love him with a love patterned on the love with which God the Father loves us: “his love.”