In our study this past Sunday of Philippians 2:2, it was important to look back at our previous study of verse 1 — because verse 2 and verse 1 are connected.
Verse 1 reads, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy…”
Remember that the word “so” — the very first word of verse 1 — indicates a reaction to Paul’s previous teaching that we’re all soldiers on a mission, marching and moving forward while engaged in conflict, both spiritually and sometimes even physically.
And in order to successfully engage in such a mission, our emotional health needs to be optimal — and with that Paul notes in verse 1 that we are strengthened deep down by the Lord (and each other) through “encouragement in Christ” as well as “comfort from love,” “participation in the Spirit,” and “affection and sympathy.”
Which brings us to verse 2 — part of the same sentence — in which Paul continues by saying “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
Verse 2 is the “then” part of an “if-then” proposition. It’s Paul’s charge, his “marching orders,” if you will.
In other words, once you’ve filled up at God’s “spiritual gas station” with all the gifts Christ bestows upon his beloved children (verse 1) — then demonstrate your renewed strength by being united with other believers as you go forth (verse 2).
Our world and our nation — and even the church itself — is quite divided today. It seems people are primed and ready to argue, fight, and tear each other down at every opportunity. How can Christians fix this amid even a divided church? By following Paul’s specific instructions: “being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” And we can start doing so right here at Calvary Chapel Living Hope!
As Pastor Scott said, when we’re all invested in the same mission, big things happen. So maybe if we’re all of one accord at our church in central New Jersey, that mindset will spread to other churches — and then watch out!
So how do we get there?
Pastor Scott broke down the words in verse 2 to show us how — and they all come down to the importance of developing deep, meaningful relationships. As we’ve seen in previous studies, we know we can’t optimally live the Christian life by ourselves. We need each other. The idea from a previous study of us standing side by side in a long line with our arms linked is a powerful image of strength. Think about that picture for a second: How much fear do you imagine yourself feeling with your arms linked in a line with fellow believers? Seems the answer is zero. That kind of unity is galvanizing and confidence inspiring. And it seems that’s exactly what the Lord had in mind when he inspired Paul to compose verse 2.
And Pastor Scott broke down the verse by describing four words that get deeper into the idea of unity.
The first is “same mind,” which in Greek is rendered as “phraneo” — and it’s all about bringing emotions and beliefs together. The result becomes our core belief — our “mindset” as we pursue the same mission.
The second is “same love” — and this particular rendering in the Greek is the familiar “agape” type of love or supernatural love. The love of God. (How interesting that the Greeks didn’t have one word for love as we do in English; no, they broadened it with multiple words describing love — and “agape” is the highest form.) And to bolster our unity, we must strive to give each other the “agape” love that the Lord freely gives to us. But it isn’t easy, is it? Agape love requires sacrifice. It requires an attitude of giving without expecting anything in return. When God gave us his only son, Jesus, the Lord knew we would never be able to repay him. But that’s the idea around salvation, isn’t it? There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, his forgiveness, his mercy. It’s not a transaction we’re so used to making day to day here in our consumer-driven world. No, instead it’s’s a one-way offer of love we can either accept or reject. A gift. And the more our mindsets are focused on living and loving as sacrificially as possible, the more successful our mission will be.
The third term — “full accord” — is all about being united as we walk together in faith. Not unlike the previous image of standing in a line together with our arms linked, Pastor Scott offered an equally powerful image of being “yoked” as oxen are. It can impede a mission if the we’re yoked and going in different directions — not much progress forward is possible. But Pastor Scott noted that if we’re all following Jesus, the direction forward is guaranteed: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
Finally we come back around to the words “one mind” at the end of verse 2 as we saw in the beginning of the verse. Pastor Scott emphasized that the repeated theme is meant to get us focused again on going in the same direction. He added another great illustration, too: An orchestra getting tuned up. Anyone who’s ever witnessed classical musicians in concert knows that before they actually play a song together, they’re playing individually amid cacophony. No unity, no beauty. But once they tune up, the music they make together sounds amazing.
May we move forward together as one body, having one mind, and one mission — and begin by individually deciding to take part in the heavenly orchestra and by tuning to the same note. To link arms in one long line. To be yoked to Jesus as he leads us onward as we live life 100 percent for the purpose he has for us.
Then get ready for big things to happen.