Last night I got more direct with my Bible study than I often do. Sometimes as a teacher, it’s hard to speak on things that we know are areas where we also frequently fall short, where God continues to do the hard heart-level work that makes the spot tender to the touch. But it has to be said- and said to my heart, as well.
We are studying Philippians together this summer (over Zoom, because... 2020.) One of the themes that we just cannot get around is unity in the church, and the deep tie between unity and humility.
In Philippians 2:2, Paul exhorts the believers to “be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
Note that this is not a call to uniformity of thought. The early church was no less divided than we are today. Slaves and slaveowners, zealots and former tax collectors, groups of mixed culture, race, social class, political stance... and yet, Paul tells them to be of the same mind. How?!
I think verses 5 and 6 clue us in to the answer- “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...”
This is the “one mind” we are to have. Humility. A deep identification with Christ that says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,” a willingness to lay down our stances and arguments and be so consumed with Jesus that we willingly submit to others thinking we are foolish or wrong or ignorant, only that Jesus Christ would be made much of (see 1:15-18).
In this time when we are physically separated and often unable to worship together, I think we are losing perspective. We weren’t designed to do this Christian life on our own. We need the diversity of the body of Christ to challenge us and form us, to require us to lay down our fine-sounding arguments and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. And in this social media virtual world we are living in... we are becoming very good at making our points and arguing our cause and judging one another’s motives and not submitting to one another.
Jesus didn’t call us to uniformity. You and I can vote for different people, feel differently about masks or vaccines or school choice or [fill in the blank with just about anything.] We can even discuss those differences- with love and care for the other person. But at the end of the day, all of that is rubbish. Trash. NOTHING in comparison to the great call of magnifying Jesus.
Because in comparison to who our Lord Jesus Christ is, and what He has done, nothing matters.
Our unity in Jesus (across all of our myriad differences) and humility are signs that are supposed to grab the attention of the watching world and be unexplainable apart from our Savior. Is unity and humility what we are being known for? I’m afraid not.
How do we walk this out? I don’t know. But I know humility and repentance and a heart moved to genuine love and care for those around us are critical components. Oh how we need Him. Lord, give us the mind of Christ. May we be willing to “lose” an argument, be disregarded, be thought fools... if only You would be lifted higher.