We have more in common with Chrisitans than we do have uncommon. I have written about this in the past which is a common thread found throughout the New Testament. You can read about how Christians share in weeping for one another here and how we share in rejoicing with others here.
Sometimes we neglect the aspect of unity among believers (I call it the togetherness of the Christian life). We read in the Bible that believers, the church, are called a body. Christ is the head of the body, but each member (believer) is part of this body. Just like each perspective part of your body has usefulness so does the body of Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us,
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-20 ESV).”
If we are a body that is to serve together, labor together, and function together what does that look like? It is complex and yet simple. It is unique, diverse, and yet symbiotic. What are some of ways we share together. Paul in his pastoral prayer for the church reminds us of what this unity looks like:
We Labor Together in the Gospel
Paul mentioned here that he thanked God in his prayers for the believers because of their partnership in the Gospel (Phil. 1:5). This perspective reminds us of the eternal weight of the Gospel. It goes beyond our denominational divides. It goes beyond the trivial matters that we can get worked up on. We labor and fight for the defense and confirmation of the Gospel (Phil. 1:7).
This reminds us of the greater, higher calling of the Christian faith. We are called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). We co-labor together for this goal. We pursue the lost as we were once lost. We are reminded of the why Christ came was to save sinners and we are being used to point to Him (1 Timothy 1:15)!
Growing up I played a few team sports, mainly soccer. Even though you may have some strong players that stand out and are more gifted than others, you still need the whole team. If a team is short players and does not meet the requirement to play, they have to forfeit. You can have the best player in the league but if the team doesn’t show up, no game. Jesus uses individuals that are part of the body. We know that we are all gifted differently. But God uses the individual and it’s members. It is a “both and” saying. We are members of the body pointing to the head, Jesus. We need both the individual and the body working together, they go hand in hand. In fact, when the body is working together in unity, we see strong, effective ministry taking place.
We Can Be Confident in Salvation
Salvation that is offered freely from Jesus not only saves us but is at work in us. I am so thankful that there is the work that triune God is doing in my life. I loved by God the Father, saved through God the Son, and empowered by God the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul reminded the church that God is doing a work in you and through you and that will take place until you stand in your glorified state with Jesus (Phil 1:6). In another way, what God began, he is confident God will finish.
Steven Lawson on his commentary on this passage writes,
“As a believer in Christ, you are as certain of heaven as though you have already been there ten thousand years. God finishes what he starts.”
We can be confident as Scripture reminds us that those who call on the name of the Lord is saved (Romans 10:13). We can be confident that those who are in Jesus Christ do not stand condemned (Romans 8:1). There is a security for those who are in Christ that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).
We all grow in love
This could be classified as the work of sanctification but here the Apostle Paul prays that the believers love would grow in knowledge and discernment (Phil 1:9-10). What does it mean for our love to grow in knowledge and discernment? To grow in the love is so that they would approve what is excellent. The church would know what needs exceed all else. The church would see needs and be able to discern what are legitimate needs or superficial needs. This love would discern and know how Christ can be proclaimed and what needs are pragmatic.
This love that Paul talks about is the genuine, unconditional love that God has shown to us. This love that has no ending or knows no bounds. This love that we grow in and as the Apostle Paul writes,
“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19) .”
It continues to grow in and through us and we get to show this ongoing, great love of God to others. We are greatly loved by Christ and we can now love others greatly through Christ.