Imagine you go to school with another young believer from the same local church. You have worked together in youth outreach and stood shoulder to shoulder in gospel witness to unbelieving friends. But a little pride and self-promotion has risen to the surface in one of you. While you are maintaining a semblance of peace, the truth is you aren’t “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Php 1:27 ESV). And a friend at school has noticed the change. “Hey, you two haven’t tag-teamed me with an invitation to gospel meeting lately. What’s wrong – the Christian bromance not working for you anymore?” The testimony of the gospel of Christ is suffering because you are not united.
Perhaps exacerbated by pressure from the outside world (see last month’s article), the gospel witness of the church at Philippi was being weakened by internal friction. A spirit of rivalry and self-centredness was robbing the church of its joy. It happens in too many local churches today – maybe in yours. The lack of unity is serious, and the Spirit of God says assemblies need to be “saved” from this sin: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Php 2:12 ESV). God isn’t going to merely stand on the sidelines and allow His church to self-destruct – His glory is at stake. And He has told you, through Paul’s pen, how He expects you to contribute to unity within the church where you are.
Be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind …. 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” (Php 2:2-4 ESV). Unity doesn’t depend on your having matching personalities or agreement on every detail of Scripture interpretation. Unity can still be enjoyed if you have the right attitude towards one another, if you show sincere affection to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, if you try to understand one another and to be united in scriptural convictions, if you are aiming at the same goals, and if you stop putting your own wants and preferences first and focus instead on serving others. However difficult your fellow believers may be, humbly counting them more significant than yourself in the church is not beneath you, because this is exactly the mindset that characterized your Lord and Savior. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Php 2:5 KJV).
The Lord hates “one who sows discord among brothers” (Pro 6:16,19 ESV). Check your “me first” attitude at the door. Don’t get bogged down in the grumbling and negativity. Smile. Try to restore the relationship. Don’t let the local church become a platform to display your greatness. Make it a platform to display the greatness of the Lord Jesus. Seize the opportunity to put the interests of others ahead of your own. When you take the low place, Christ gets the high place.