Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | April 23, 2012

Unity: “the same mind”, “the same love”, “united in spirit”, and “one purpose”

Today’s devotion comes from Philippians 2:1-2.
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”  Philippians 2:1-2.
Today’s Scripture is a little difficult to understand, because of the order of the two verses.  The natural tendency is to put the focus on the first verse.  But, I think we will better understand today’s Scripture by putting the focus on the second verse. 
In other words, if we are “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose”, then there will be produced:  encouragement in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and compassion, and Paul’s joy will be made complete.
This order of focus is consistent with continuing the unity theme of yesterday’s Scripture as we read at the end of the previous chapter.  “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”  Philippians 1:27.
What would this unity look like?  We know it would be of “the same mind”, “the same love”, “united in spirit”, and “one purpose”.
Is this a unity of the lowest common denominator, what everybody knows and believes?   
Is this a unity of a vague love for all?
Is this a unity of a tolerance for every thing?
Or, is this unity based on something else?
The Protestant Reformed Churches have struggled with this issue.  And, I have been critical of them at times.  But, I keep on coming back to their position.  It deserves to at least be considered. 
The Protestant Reformed Churches base their unity, at least what they believe and do, in their three Reformed Confessions:  The Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession, and The Canons of Dordrecht.  They call them collectively “The Three Forms of Unity”.
But, the Protestant Reformed Churches also believe that there is a more important unity based on what God did.  Here is an article by Rev. Angus Stewart, a PRC minister, titled “The Unity of the Church“.  Here is the concluding paragraph in the article followed by a link to the whole article.   
“This unity of the church is a fact.  Thus the Spirit declares, “There is one body;” not, “You must create one body.”  The unity of the church is not to be created by us, for it is a gift of God’s sovereign grace.  Instead, the church is called to “keep” the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).  This is done by believers loving, confessing and holding fast to the “one faith” and the “one hope” of the “one Lord” by the “one Spirit;” and by believers readily and cheerfully employing their gifts for the advantage and salvation of the other members of the “one body” in “lowliness,” “meekness” and “love” (Eph. 4:2).”

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