So 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.
Jesus Provides the Relational Security for Harmony
The experience of Jesus is the same, so the outworking of the experience should be the same. Each of the listed items of experience are relational. We have our relational needs met in Jesus, so we do not have to fight for our corner, make sure we win, snap at others. Remember, the context is a church which is struggling with an argumentative situation. We often get into arguments when we believe that we aren’t having our needs met. Paul brings the Philippians back to Jesus to remind them that all their relational needs are met. When they received Jesus, they received encouragement, comfort from his love, a purposeful life in the Holy Spirit, affection, and sympathy. Many people are pragmatists. Their ethics serve their agenda. They will behave after they have been manipulative, whining, and underhand in order to get their needs met. Some Christians actually live lives forgetful of Jesus, and so they do not spend enough time with him to start satisfied. Paul reminds the Philippians that they already have these things. Fighting each other to get them is futile.
Unity occurs in any relationship when each person realises they are in a safe place. From that position of safety they can offer security to others. A secure place is a unified place. I often work hard to set up my classrooms this way. Someone who complains, fights, and doesn’t participate often is scared and angry. Rather than discipline them through rules, it is often, like Paul, important to establish relationship. It is essential to remind each other of all our relational needs being met in Christ. From that position of strength I can heal a church, a marriage, or a work situation. I bring more to the table than I need from the situation.
Lastly, we are called in this passage back to our goal. The unity that we have is related to the objectives we are pulling for. If the whole church is seeking to grow closer to God and facilitate others to do so, there will be difficult times, but ultimately there will be unity.
Let me remember the comfort, the security and the confidence that comes from being united with you. Then let me be an agent of unity to others.
- Where is Paul when he is writing this letter?
- What experience does Paul expect a Christian to have with Jesus?
- How does the secure relationship we have with Jesus help us to bring unity and harmony to other situations?
- Which relationship looks hard for you in 2014?
- How could you remind yourself of Jesus’ unconditionally acceptance so that you can unconditionally accept yourself and others?