Letter of Joy–Philippians 1: 27-2:11 (Unity)

Unity is not about just peace-keeping, avoiding difficult conversations, and pretending differences aren’t there. We stand on the love of Jesus—united in him through the Holy Spirit. From that foundation, we’re able to pursue growing unity as the people of God. Paul goes on to encourage the Philippians to pursue unifying attributes like love, selflessness, and humility. Paul’s encouragement can be boiled down to verse 4: Look to other people’s interests above your own. Paul wants the Philippians to be selfless. When they put each other first, they will meet each other’s needs, love each other well, and achieve unity. 

Paul goes on to give the Philippians an example of selflessness for them to emulate. Paul walks through Jesus’s mindset in these verses. 

  • Jesus humbled himself in a way we cannot easily understand. 
  • He stepped down from glory as a human, yet still fully God. 
  • He had a scandal surrounding his birth, a small-town upbringing, and thirty years of obscurity. 
  • His short, three-year ministry ended in a cruel death. The cross was a scandalous image in the first century—a death reserved for thieves and rebels. 
  • Because Jesus was faithful to the Father even unto death, the Father has glorified him to the highest place. 

We, his people, represent and follow him until he returns. Paul encourages the Philippians to be like Jesus not only for their personal growth but also for the sake of the church and the glory of God.

Unity is difficult. We have to work at it. When we come into the family of God, we join with people from all kinds of backgrounds. We’ll likely clash with other Christians. Jesus is our perfect example of selflessness. We, as his followers, are called to imitate him. Stand in unity is not an idea or a belief but a response to the encouragement and comfort that they have in Christ. Unity confronts our motive, our pride, and our priorities.

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