“… so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,”
Have you ever heard, "There are no atheists in foxholes" which is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as during war (thus the term “in foxholes"), people will believe in, or hope, that there is a God. One of the most unifying events in human history of people on any continent is war. War, or maybe better put “a common enemy” has done more to bring people together than any other single event in the history of mankind. That is, until the church was born.
The church is a force to be reckoned with in the world not for evil but for good and our power is on display each time we gather to worship our God and to declare war on the forces of evil. The church is like God’s ordained “fox hole” where we can find shelter together and are reminded a fresh each time we do that the battle belongs to the Lord. Jesus is the victorious one!
In Philippians 1:27 the apostle Paul uses the words “striving together” which is the Greek word, sunathleo, sun, which is a prefix and it means, “together” and then the word “Athleo”, where we get our English word “athletic”. When you put them together you get the term “athletic team”. The apostle Paul sees the church like a team, like soldiers who stand together and lock arms much like rugby players do when they form a scrum. Paul is saying that we are to strive together as a team. Christianity is a team sport. I like the acrostic for TEAM, “Together Everyone Achieves More”.
The psalmist expressed the beauty of camaraderie in Psalm 133:1-3 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.” The bottom line is, where there is unity God commands His blessings!
What unity isn’t and what it is not. What unity is not is unanimity. Unanimity means everyone thinks alike, exactly the same things. Unity also is not uniformity as uniformity means everyone does the same thing. Unity means harmony. Unity means people respect the differences we each have and in turn we don’t make our differences the focus of our relationship but rather the things we have in common. We look for the third option you might say knowing that there is unity in diversity. 1 Corinthians 12:14 reminds us, “For in fact the body is not one member but many and though we are many we are one.”
There is an old saying, “if you find two people that agree on everything, one of them is not thinking.” It was Augustine who said, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” Remember Jesus great earthly prayer for you and me in John 17:21, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” The apostle Paul would write in Philippians 2:2, “fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Fulfill my joy being like minded Paul would say. Not uniformity, not unanimity but rather, harmony, agreeing to work together, not being divided.
Remember the enemies strategy is conquer and divide and God’s desire is that we unite and win. Win the day by locking arms and standing together knowing its true, united we win and divided we fall. It’s that simple. Choose unity and win.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
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