walk in the word
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:1-3
A commitment to fellowship is a commitment to unity—one mindedness. Notice how Paul uses “mind” twice in this verse. This is repetition for emphasis. He’s saying it twice so we get it. I might need to hear it three times! This doesn’t mean we agree in lock-step on everything; it means we agree deeply on the most important things and we give one another a lot of latitude on what’s not so important. So, how do we figure that out?
In Philippians 2:1 above, the phrase “participation in the Spirit” uses the Greek word koinonia, which is often translated fellowship. This is the third of Paul’s five signs of genuine life in the Body of Christ (“encouragement in Christ,” “comfort from love,” “fellowship in the Spirit,” “affection,” and “sympathy”). If all this is going on between us and God, it’s more than reasonable to aspect, as Paul does, that things are going to be really happening between us!
Ephesians 4:3 says that we should be “Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” God’s Spirit wants our church to be unified. Do you understand that? God’s Spirit wants us to love and forgive and forbear with one another (see Ephesians 4:2). That’s what God’s Spirit is going for in our church, that we would stay together and work together.
But genuine unity among us isn’t going to be maintained if we are not first deeply connected and living in fellowship with the Spirit ourselves. There are all kinds of examples in Christian history of groups that have tried to impose unity because it was a good idea. Let me tell you that institutional unity can’t hold a candle to unity in the Spirit of God. Our role isn’t to create unity; that’s God’s job. Ephesians 4:3 tells us that we need to be attentive, committed and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit. When we sense things going sideways, our prayer should be, “Father, am I maintaining or am I disrupting the unity of Your Spirit?” Unity between us will always rest in how eager we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
Prayer: Father, point out anything in me that disrupts or blocks the unity that Your Spirit is going for in my church. Keep me from committing sins or omitting service that harms unity in Your Body. Remind me each day that You are the decider of what place and role I am to carry out in Your Body. Lead me into faithfulness that preserves the unity of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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