You can’t read Paul’s letters and not know that he had high aspirations for the church. Seeing people saved was one thing–one great, glorious, eternity changing, heaven rejoicing thing. But Paul’s desire for those saved went beyond guaranteed fire insurance, he longed that it would manifest in authentic family interaction. For, in so doing, they would attest to the authenticity of the power of the gospel.
The power, in Paul’s day, for Jew and Gentile to regard one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and co-heirs of the promises of God. The power to bring slave and free into peer fellowship around a common table as they regarded each other with like standing in the kingdom of God. The power for men and women to defy social norms and serve each other in community as equally called by God, gifted by God, and valued by God. The power to be counter culture. The power to defy socio-economic realities.
So, for Paul, a lot was at stake when it came to the church being the church.
Reminded of that this morning as I chew on the first part of Philippians 2.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
(Philippians 2:1-2 ESV)
Most often when we think of Philippians 2 we think of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ (2:6-11). Of the grand teaching as to the depths to which Jesus obediently subjected Himself for our redemption–“even death on a cross.” And as to the heights to which the Father has exalted Him, bestowing on Him “a name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
But these glorious truths concerning the Savior are, in sense, written as “supporting material.” The main point of the passage is Paul’s desire that the believers at Philippi would “make full” his joy by being of one love, of one accord, and of one mind. That they would give Paul cause for over-the-top rejoicing because they lived together in the manner they were called to live together. And that, only possible, as they possessed, and thus reflected, the mind and attitude of Christ.
That they would complete Paul’s joy by “doing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” (2:3a). That they would fill Paul full with gladness as, in humility, they esteemed others better than themselves (2:3b). That they would actually display the manifold wisdom of God to heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10) as each of them looked not to their own interests, but to the interests of others (2:4). And all this, through the mind of Christ made available to them through the Spirit indwelling them.
Oh, that the church, by God’s grace and enabling, would long to be the church.
That we would view her not as services and products to be consumed and evaluated, but as she is, the glorious Bride of Christ deserving our commitment and sacrifice. That we would view others in the church not simply as hands to shake on a Sunday morning, but as part of a family called to share in the things of pursing the kingdom together. That we would complete His joy, being in full accord and of one mind–the mind of Christ.
Because of grace. For His glory.