Paul writes verse 1 of Philippians 2 as if it's a done deal:
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy...
The assumption is that we have these beautiful and lovely things in Jesus.
So with that truth as a foundation, Paul urges all believers to be united:
....complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind.
Hmmm.... does it complete my joy when believers are united? I like it, it's a nice thing. But in all honesty it doesn't get me bouncing around. I need to grow in this area. I so want it to be more than a nice thing to which I pay lip service. Because it's important.
When I'm facing something challenging, it pretty-much becomes my sole focus and my prayers reflect that. What about Jesus? You can't get any more challenging that being the Son of God facing unjust death by crucifixion and the horror of becoming the sin of the world. Yet what was Jesus' last recorded prayer hours before He died? That His followers be united and that we would see His glory.
Unity. It's vital. It's a God-thing.
When a group of people are united, others take notice. There's a beauty about it.
When believers are united, we display God's wisdom and glory. It's attractive.
To follow Jesus is the highest calling. To be a child of God is the highest status.
I wonder... if we realised what we have in Christ and who we truly are, surely we would be much more likely to make allowances for one another and be loving and kind without being critical and judging. There are times when the truth needs to be spoken, but in a loving way that builds up rather than destroys.
If our gaze was completely taken up with Jesus, I'm sure we wouldn't be so quick to tag people and write them off because they do things a bit differently to us.
We're all works in progress. None of us have got it together. And that's okay: our Daddy-God has promised that the work He has started in each of us He will complete.
So look at our amazing gracious wonderful God and be thankful. The more we appreciate His grace in our hearts, the more we will show grace to others.
Thankful hearts are united hearts.
Mandy Baker Johnson is a private medical secretary and freelance writer. She enjoys blogging and recently co-authored her first book, Drawn from Words. She volunteers with a Christian charity working with women in the sex industry, and is currently researching this area for her second book.