Summary: Mesage four in series on "Restoring the Joy" a study of Philippians. In this message on unity we examine its motivation, the means of attaining it and the model of Christ.
Restoring the Joy
Sermon # 4
“The Unity that Produces Joy.”
Over the last few weeks in our series “Restoring the Joy” we have seen how circumstances may cause us to lose our joy but and that in reality it is our attitude that determines our joy not our circumstances.
In our last lesson we learned that our joy is found in having a proper perspective on the eternal, on our citizenship and on hardship. In the last section Paul touched on the need for believers to behave as citizens of heaven by getting along well with one another. Paul warned that disputes and grudges would drive a wedge into the church. Therefore, we are called to work hard at healing and working to mend offenses within the body. We also noted that Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians, that believers are called “to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). In the section of the letter to the Philippians that we are going to examine today (2:1-11) Paul’s major concern is that there not be disunity or conflict in the church.
I want you to note three things about this call to unity..
FIRST, THE MOTIVATION FOR UNITY
Paul again takes up the theme of unity, the unity which will produce joy, when he says, in verse one of chapter two, “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.”
Paul uses four “if” clauses to introduce his exhortation to unity. To us, an “if” often conveys a degree of doubt, but the Greek construction used here (called first class condition in Greek) does not do so. On the contrary, these “if’s” can and should be rendered “since” and are assumed to be true.
The “if” is simply a rhetorical way of forcefully saying “since” you have encourage-ment in Christ, since you have comfort provided by love, since you have fellowship with the Spirit, and since you have affection and mercy, then complete my joy.…
I like the way that the translation “The Message” renders the first two verses of this chapter.
“ If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care--(2) then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.”
The truth is that we need each other, I read a poem that I think beautifully illustrates this point.
“The reason mountain climbers
are tied together
is to keep the sane ones from going home.’
I don’t know who said it,
Or when, or where,
But I’ve chuckled over it,
Thought about it, and quoted it too.
With a mountain of mercy behind me
And a mountain of mission ahead,
I need you, my sister, my brother,
I need you to be tied to you,
And you need me too.
We need each other…
To keep from bolting,
Fleeing in panic, and returning
To the ‘sanity’ of unbelief.
Wise words, whoever said them,
I’ve placed them in my ‘bible’:
They are my Hezekiah 6:14.”
[Gerhard E. Frost. “Blessed Is the Ordinary.” As quoted in Charles Swindoll. “The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart: And 1,501 Other Stories” (Nashville: Word Pub., 1998) p. 597.]
John recorded Jesus’ prayer for all those who would believe in him in chapter 17, in verse twenty Jesus says, “I do not pray for these alone, but for those who will believe in Me through their word; (21) that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
John describes a visible unity, for it is only a visible unity that the world can see and on the basis of which people can come to believe in Jesus. This unity has to be expressed in everything we do and say. In 1 John 1:7 it says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Do you have a member of the household of faith with whom you are on bad terms? Do you have a Christian brother or sister with whom you are not speaking? The context of this verse seems to indicate that to be out of fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters is to be out of fellowship with God. Unity in the church is that important to the Lord.