Written by Tim Wood
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. 3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:1-3
A commitment to fellowship is a commitment to unity—one mindedness. Notice how Paul uses “mind” twice in this verse. This is repetition for emphasis. He’s saying it twice so we get it. I might need to hear it three times! This doesn’t mean we agree in lock-step on everything; it means we agree deeply on the most important things and we give one another a lot of latitude on what’s not so important. So, how do we figure that out?
Note the five things the Spirit brings: encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, fellowship in the Spirit, affection and sympathy. If all this is going on between us and God, then it’s reasonable to expect that people will in Christ will have real unity and real fellowship.
Ephesians 4:3 says that we should be “Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” God’s Spirit wants thechurch to be unified. Do you understand that? God’s Spirit wants us to love and forgive and forbear with one another (see Ephesians 4:2). That’s what God’s Spirit is going for in the church, that we would stay together and work together.
But genuine unity among us isn’t going to be maintained if we are not first deeply connected and living in fellowship with the Spirit ourselves. There are all kinds of examples in Christian history of groups that have tried to impose unity because it was a good idea. Let me tell you that institutional unity can’t hold a candle to unity in the Spirit of God. Our role isn’t to create unity; that’s God’s job. Ephesians 4:3 tells us that we need to be attentive, committed and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit. When we sense things going sideways, our prayer should be, “Father, am I maintaining or am I disrupting the unity of Your Spirit?” Unity between us will always rest in how eager we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit.