September 14, 2014.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
I dream of a day when all Christians are unified under one mind and judgment, crowing Christ our King as Lord and facing the advisory with a unified front. I can see a world where all those who bear the name of our Lord work together in spreading the gospel as it is laid out in the word of God to a lost and dying world, bringing many souls to safety. I can imagine what it was like when the church was first started, before there were divisions, before there were arguments about what we were supposed to do and before pride and envy leaked in to lead many astray. I want to feel the love that each Christian felt among all the brethren, extending past the walls of the local congregation and longing for a relationship with the full body of Christ. I want to be able to look to the apostles and church leaders to take a firm stand in the truth, examining thoughts and ideas through scriptures and the Holy Spirit, coming to the same conclusion and being of one mind. In full accord and of one mind. This is not the case today for the greater religious world. There is hardly any unity amongst those who bear His name, even within some of the same fellowships. I know there are good reasons for this, and truth should never be compromised, but I believe that there is a way to make it work, and for us all to come to be of the same mind and of the same judgment. Why do I believe this? Because that is the will of Christ.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them,that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
It is not just my hope that we all be one, but it is the will of God that we be unified under our Lord. When speaking to the people who thought he had a demon, Jesus said “a house divided against itself cannot stand (ref. Mark 3:25).” If it is the will of God that we be of one mind, I have no doubt that it can be obtained.
So what is the problem? Why are we so divided? I suppose there are many reasons that we could site from this, ranging from resent between brethren to historical divides that have so often plagued the church. The list could go on and on without really settling in on one event or another, for there were many divisive events ranging throughout history, even back to the first century as Paul had to write and rebuke the Corinthian church for their forming divisions. But if I had to narrow it down to one singular characteristic that causes division, I would lay the blame on pride. I opened with Paul’s admonishment to the church at Philippi as he urges them to be in full accord and of one mind to complete his joy. How were they to accomplish this? Note the very next thing he said:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but 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.”
Paul tells them to be of one mind, and then hits hard on humility. This says to me that humility is key in oneness. If we are going to be of the same mind and the same judgment, we must first throw off our spiritual pride and get down to what really matters: the word of God. The will of God. What He want us to do, and how we should treat one another. Read the verse above a couple more times. Do you understand what Paul is saying? This is not something that is easy to do, nor is it something that is usually within our nature. “[C]ount others more significant than yourselves.” What a statement! When is the last time you have done that? When is the last time I have done that? This, I believe, is the first step towards unity. Notice that the first step doesn’t involve rebuking someone, or proving the other side wrong, or even discussing the issues. Now, the issues will have to be addressed and a conclusion will need to be reached, but that is not the first step. What is the first step? To love one another, and to show one another the love of Christ. Is it really surprising that this is the first step?
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
What is the greatest commandment? Love. Why? Because all the other commandments hinge on this first and great commandment. Yes, doing what Jesus told us to do through his words and the words of those inspired by the Holy Spirit is vitally important to our souls. But if we don’t have love, nothing else matters. Nothing. (I Cor. 13). If we first show love and are humble towards our fellow man, the other things are much more likely to fall into place. If you love God, you’re probably going to do what He says. If you love your neighbor, you’re not likely to do anything to harm him, but rather the things that will bring him up. This is why everything hinges on love.
What is an enemy of love? Again, I would answer pride (or arrogance). It is the enemy of love for anyone else besides self at least. It is this pride and arrogance that has been our downfall when it comes to unity. Our pride towards God stops us from believing his word and our pride towards man stops us from considering other viewpoints. If we continue on with Paul’s admonishment to the Philippians, we will see that he points to Christ as our example of humility.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
What greater example of humility could we have asked for, than Jesus Christ who came to this earth, though equal to God, to suffer and to die upon that cruel cross while we as sinners spit at his face? What greater love is there than this? We are reconciled to God, washed from our sins and presented blameless before the throne not because we deserve it, but because Christ loved us that much. He gave up glory in heaven to suffer shame on earth, so that we might come to him from our sins and be washed through new birth. He did not come wearing a crown or exalted high, but he came by humble means and as a poor man to die. From death to the grave, then busting forth in glorious day, through pain he conquered sin, defeated death, our souls to ransom and save. Oh how he loves us so.
And what is the outcome of his humility and love?
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
There will come a day where every knee shall bow, regardless of religion or race, and every tongue shall announce his saving grace. But this time will come to late for the masses. It will be too late for those who did not believe. What a terrible day for they salvation not to receive. At last there will be unity from of all the minds of men… but too late, too late for those who did not believe in Him.
Until that day, let us fight for peace, and let us humble ourselves for the sake of unity. Let us run to the inspired word do settle all dispute, and provoke one another to love and good works. Let God’s word stand always above the word of any man.
I dream of a day when all Christians are unified under one mind and judgment, crowing Christ our King as Lord and facing the advisory with a unified front. I can see a world where all those who bear the name of our Lord work together in spreading the gospel as it is laid out in the word of God to a lost and dying world, bringing many souls to safety. I imagine a world where every knee bows, and with every tongue confession is made. Why do I believe this? Because that is the will of Christ.
Suggested Daily Reading: Philippians 1-4.