Summary: Unity in the Body of Christ goes beyond fondness for the people of Christ. It is a supernatural work that results in surrendering our rights for the sake of others. Learn the essentials and the expressions of unity in this message.
Intro: Tonto and the Lone Ranger were riding through a canyon together when all of a sudden both sides were filled with Indian warriors on horses, dressed for battle. The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and asked, “What are we going to do?” Tonto replied, “What you mean ‘we,’ Whiteman?”
Paul has told the church how to stand firm against attacks and conflicts from the outside. He is changing gears and teaching us how to stand against one of the devils most deadly tools conflict on the inside. What we have to understand from the beginning is that conflict is neutral. The results of conflict depend on our response to them. God wants us united the devil wants us divided.
Paul gently commands the Philippians to be united. He is not merely telling them or us to live in love and harmony because of fondness for each other. There will always be people in the body of believers whether at this location or others that you are not necessarily fond of. This goes beyond simple fondness to the responsibilities we have as members of the household of God. The togetherness or unity of the early church was not the result of natural oneness but a supernatural bond.
Paul is trying to say in a gracious and fatherly way to the Philippians he loves, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats. It’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.”
There are four foundations stones in this passage that reveal that we as God’s body have the resources and responsibility to glorify Jesus by being supernaturally united.
I. Four essentials of unity (Philippians 2:1)
We will view the four essentials as foundation stones for unity
A) Foundations stone one for unity is the experience of Christ’s life
Is (since) there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? (NLT) If you can’t be encouraged by what Jesus did for you at salvation and is doing by constantly filling you with His life there is no need to worry about the rest of Paul’s encouragement. It is the life of Jesus that puts in us the desire and ability to unite with other believers. God’s will is for the Body and Bride of Christ to be united in community. God is at work in us both to will(desire) and to do (deeds) (Philippians 2:13)
Thelo (will) means to determine and refers to one's desire and implies volition and purpose. Thelo refers to thoughtful, purposeful choice, not to mere whim or emotional desire. God’s at work in you changing your desires and decisions!! Work – energeo God’s helper is always at work in us to make our life and service effective for Him! This is the reason for uniting with other believers.
We can learn a lot from sunflowers.
The Sunflower is probably the most amazing flowers God created. They literally follow the sun. Watching a sunflower follow the sun is interesting. Watching hundreds in absolute unison follow the sun is actually quite incredible. Something I found out recently, is that Sunflowers continue tracking the suns direction long after sun set. Through 360 degree’s they ensure that they are always oriented in the direction of the sun. Their unity is totally dependent on one thing, their relationship to the sun. The same holds true for us church. Our unity is totally dependent on the Sun Jesus.
B) Foundation stone two for unity is the example of Christ’s love
“since there is a certain tender persuasion that comes from divine love” (Wuest)
God loved us in the deepest, darkest, most degraded point in our lives. “While we were yet sinners Christ died (loved) for us.” With that kind of love being poured in our hearts there should be such a persuasion to move beyond any hurt, or imagined hurt or hang up we have with each other. This pictures Jesus whispering His love in our ear when we want to respond to each other with any other attitude or action. We have to ask ourselves do we know the tender cheer that love brings. This is prayer, Jesus speaking love and compassion overpowering our desire for judgment and condemnation.
C) Foundation stone three for unity is the encouragement of Christ’s body
If there is any common life in you! We share the common life of the Holy Spirit that is the reason to be united. Hebrews 10:24, 25 say, to stir up or encourage each other. The only way to do that is for the Holy Spirit to place common life, goal, interests, and participation in the life of Christ in us.