Tuesday, June 1

Paul's Solution for Discord Within the Church

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. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not {merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:1-8)
It seems that the Philippian church, despite all the good things Paul sees in it, might have had just a little problem with members who didn't get along with each other. Here in these verses, Paul gives them the solution to their problem. He starts out by encouraging them to be unified in their thoughts and feelings, and to maintain a unified purpose because they have one big thing in common through identification with Christ--they all have the same Holy Spirit working within them. Then he gives them some concrete ways to go about getting this unity of spirit within the church.

First of all, then need to examine their own attitudes about themselves. Are they acting--or even thinking--out of self-interest or self promotion? Are they thinking they are personally more significant within the group than they really are? If they are, they must to change this. They need to stop acting out of personal self-interest.

They also must examine their attitudes toward other members of the church. Are they assuming the best about the other members? Are they placing the needs of others as their top priority, equal to or above their own need within the church? If not, then they must change their thinking about the others, and then begin acting out of this new, changed attitude--doing things out of a desire to promote the interests of other church members, doing what is best for them.

They will not be working in the dark, trying to do something without a clear blueprint or pattern to follow, for their very own Founder, the One they are all united with, has given them an example of the sort of thinking and action demanded of them. He is truly equal with the Father, and all the rights and prerogatives that go along with that exalted position justly belong to Him, but He willingly let those things go, and did not demand what was rightfully His. He came into the world just like one of us, and allowed himself to be unjustly put to death in the most humilitating sort of way.

The solution to the Philippians discord was for each one of them to take on an attitude like Christ's: to not seek what they thought was rightfully theirs, and concentrate on giving others what they needed, even if that meant enduring a little mistreatment, or losing a little bit of the position they had attained.

Of course, this is the solution to any disunity we find within our own churches too. The key to unity is every one of us examining our own attitudes and actions, and following the example of our Leader. And not one of us will ever be called to give up as much as Christ did when He came to save us.
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