“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
The church at Philippi was a truly great church. Paul’s epistle to them reveals his strong love for this congregation. In the Scripture before us, he is urging them towards being a strong and unified body of believers. He uses the words, “one spirit,” one mind,” and “striving together” to describe the harmony and unity they were to experience. This message is as relevant today as it has ever been. The emphasis of this Scripture is not as much an attempt to get all professing believers to be unified, as it is a call for members of the local church to pull together for the sake of God’s work.
We have seen firsthand in numerous congregations, and in conversations with pastors or church members, the destructive power of division. The world, no matter how wicked it might become, cannot destroy the church that Jesus founded. Persecution has never been able to silence the Lord’s churches. As a matter of fact, persecution often results in the church being strengthened for God’s glory. The devil hates the church and will do everything he can to hinder its work, but his power alone cannot stop the New Testament church. Matthew 16:18 says, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Inevitably, the thing that weakens and destroys churches is problems within. And usually, it is not over some major point of doctrine or something of Biblical concern. It is usually over something relatively minor that is allowed to escalate to a place of strong contention because personal interests take precedence over the Word of God. The church should be “striving together” not striving against one another. The word “striving” implies laboring. Unity takes effort. We should be cooperating for the greater cause of the promotion of the Gospel and the work of God.
This is what suffers when God’s people cannot get along and fail to dwell in unity. The work of God is hurt. We need to take this admonition from the Scripture seriously and personally, always keeping our eyes on the big picture. It is not about having our way, but it is about His way and His work.