Our Unity through Jesus

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

Paul tells us in this passage that if we are to have encouragement, if we are to have consolation of love, if we are to have fellowship in the Spirit, if we are to find compassion and affection with one another in Jesus, then we must conform our way of thinking to the mind of Jesus. We are to be bound together in spiritual unity through the mindset of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have four truths to consider in our growth into a unified mindset.

The first thing we read is encouragement in Christ. When we are having a down day, as we all do, the encouragement to pick us back up is found through Jesus Christ. We think of the encouragement that our parents gave us as they guided us along in the younger years and for some even today. The encouragement of parents, of our spouse, and friends is a valuable resource in our life. Encouragement is the exhortation one gives to another to get them back on the right track. Paul is saying to us that if there be any encouragement in Christ, then be of the same mind. Jesus is our encouragement, He is the convicting truth. If we find our self in conflict with another, then one or both of us is not tuned into the mind of Jesus, or we are not listening or heeding to His word. His Word is powerful, if we through our faith act upon His Word then He can bring us together in a unified mind and purpose.

This is why attending Church services is so important for the Christian. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we are a fellowship of believers and that we must come together to edify and encourage one another. “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) The Church is in this spiritual war together and we must give encouragement to each to keep us all focused upon the goal to achieve the standard set before us in the life of Jesus. For many Church attendance is a matter of convenience but for all Church should be a strong commitment, as this is what we profess that our belief is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if His path is the way we have chosen to follow then we should gather together to teach and encourage one another. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:19)

The second thing is consolation of love. Consolation is a word that means persuasiveness. Love can powerfully persuade anyone, as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that “love never fails.” Does not love move you? It moves me. God’s love persuades in even greater ways. Consider what God has done for us, consider His creation, the sacrifice of His Son, His free gift of salvation. “God is love,” (1 John 4:8) and is unconditional in spite of our foolishness and bad behavior. We love God because “He first loved us”, (1 John 4:19) and placed His love within us that we can love one another. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) Love is a powerful force in the lives of people. Love has moved armies, love has moved fleets of ships across mighty waters, and love has lifted the downtrodden and sorrowful to heights of great joy. If God’s love can persuade us then that same love through us can persuade others.

Third, Paul tells us to fellowship in the Spirit. We fellowship with one another physically with a handshake, wink and a nod. We fellowship with each other mentally though conversation in the expression of thoughts and ideas. Let us not forsake our fellowship in the Spirit. Every Christian has fellowship with God through the Spirit of Truth. “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17) Therefore, we should also be united with each other in the Spirit of Truth. If the same Holy Spirit that is living in me is also living in you then we should not find difficulty in unity within the Spirit, unless one or both of us is hardening our heart or grieving the Spirit.

The forth is affection and compassion. This is a simple truth that we as Christians are in Christ and have love towards Christians. Our Lord and Savior died for each of us in His compassion and affection towards us and we should have compassion and affection towards our Christian brethren bringing us unified in one purpose with them. This truth goes far beyond just our brethren in the faith. Jesus in His affection and compassion for all mankind bore the sins of all upon the cross. “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) He paid this price for all the sin of the world because He loves all of His creation. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) If we have the Love of God living within us, then we also have the capacity to love all of mankind. This love that we have is a concern for their wellbeing of all both now and in the world to come. This is our common mission as Christians in this world, not to save the souls of men but to give each the opportunity to accept the free gift of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.

Upon these four truths the Church should be united in vision, living with one another in harmony, and walking in one direction to share the gospel to every ear that will hear. We should be hand in hand on that narrow road to the Kingdom of Heaven. J.B. Lightfoot said it this way. “If then your experiences in Christ appeal to you with any force, if love exerts any persuasive power upon you, if your fellowship in the Spirit is a living reality, if you have any affectionate yearnings of heart, any tender feelings of compassion, listen and obey… Live in unity among yourselves, animated by an equal and mutual love, knit together in all your sympathies and affections, united in all your thoughts and aims.”

I leave you with this verse that Paul wrote to the Romans. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, April 2, 2014

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