From the Pulpit: We need each other
For a few blissful days, my Facebook feed was a friendly place. People supported one another, shared their worries and at least seemed to try to get along. But disagreement was right around the corner. Soon we were fighting about which expert to listen to, if we should wear masks, what restrictions were reasonable and what we should be afraid of.
Armed protestors were soon storming the capitol building in Michigan demanding to be liberated. Then stories of several African Americans kills by police started making the news, and a new level of dissention arrived in our nation, focused on issues of injustice, race and police practices.
Paul wrote to the Philippians, encouraging them to live “worthy of the gospel.” He hoped to hear they were together in “one spirit” and “one mind.” He wanted them to be united. The year 2020 has demonstrated just how divided our society is. Sadly, and despite Jesus’ prayer that His people be united (see John 17:21), the church has been little better. Some of the racial tension we see today was present almost from the beginning.
Greek speakers felt shortchanged as it seemed to them that natives of Palestine received more aid from the church. Soon after there were more questions about non-Jewish believers. Did they need to become Jews and follow the Old Testament law?
While these divisions were healed, God’s people have continued to be divided over things important, like the nature of Scripture, and things unimportant, like the color of the church carpeting.
Paul’s call to unity comes as the Philippian church anticipates suffering. Why is unity important in the face of difficulty? When difficult times come, we need each other. Christians are instructed to love our neighbors and to love each other. Anger and division accomplish neither.
Far too often, our divisions come from our own selfishness. Paul, in Philippians 2, tells us the secret of unity. We must “count others more significant than yourselves” and look “also to the interests of others.” Christ is to be our model. He did not consider his own interests and desires, but instead went to the cross for us, looking out for our interests.
We will continue to be challenged by the difficulties of our world, and we will have opportunity to meet them in unity. .But to do so we must put aside ourselves and follow more closely the example of Christ.