This week we return to Philippians, starting in chapter 2: 1-4. Paul recognized many dangers that the church in Philippi would be facing but put the danger of disunity as a greater threat at that time. Most of us recognize disunity being brought about by disagreements among the membership which in turn is driven by egos, selfish agendas and directional desires. There is another type of disunity which in some cases can be hard to control. It can happen in a very healthy church. People on fire for the Lord, they are very protective of their beliefs, and they really matter to them. Their very enthusiasm leads to conflicts within the faith, becoming unwilling to respect the interests of others and so the seeds of disunity are spread. We start off a list of these causes with selfish ambition. We see this often in that a persons work is not directed toward the advancement of the work but toward their own advancement; this leading us to the next cause for disunity.

Recognition, the desire to be admired, respected, to have a seat at the table of decision and to have people seek our opinion. It is nice that people know your name, recognize you and on occasion offer you a flattering word. Consider this …. As with the Baptist, we must give way. Our goal should be to bring glory to the Father, our good work should elevate and glorify God. People need to see in us the wonder and goodness of our savior. It should be the Christian’s desire to focus people’s eyes on God.  To concentrate on self, when our goal in life is to be the best or do the best at the expense of others we find ourselves putting others down so that we may rise up.

Paul gives us five behaviors to consider as helping us to avoid the disunity, that fosters disharmony. When we walk with others in Christ, there can be no disunity. The very fact that we are walking with our Christian brothers and sisters keeps us in that unity of the spirit. The spirit will not walk where there is disunity. The power of Christian love should keep us in unity. God’s love for all people cannot be conquered. This love is not a matter of the heart but is result of the Spirit infused into us with the help of Jesus Christ. We must love all people, as required by our creator, it is the very essence of Christian life. We are bound by the Holy Spirit to love each other and all people. Where there is disunity the Spirit will not dwell. Compassion, sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others, gives testimony  to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Paul brings these thoughts to an end by revealing a very personal appeal. If there is disunity in the church he loves so much, then there can be no happiness for him.  There will be no happiness for us in our Christian walk if we are not unified in the faith. There is great value in these words of Paul to the Christians of Philippi for they are not shared as a threat but spoken as an appeal of love and Christ like concern.

As with the previous chapter the first few verses of Chapter 2 have much to say to the church. The one thing that I find most disturbing is the disunity brought about by social and cultural changes. Yes, the church does have to adapt and the early church did just that. I do not want to editorialize the sharing of the word. So I will leave you with this thought. The church needs work harder at changing the world through the gospel, not allowing the world to change the gospel to fit its needs and agendas. Next week we will continue in Philippians Chapter 2.

Life is Good