Forthright Magazine

Biblical Unity For Dummies: What Unity Values

Whether people find themselves embroiled in controversy of enjoying the blessings of unity, identifiable principles are always at work. Why? Because discord and solidarity are the fruits of value-based issues that function according to predictable processes.

Conflict exists because different people cling to different values. Whenever a clash of conflict explodes, each person is convinced that his or her idea is right, or there is a concern about one’s hurt or pride. These are all value related.

Unfortunately, when people people begin to focus on an issue, its value can begin to grow out of proportion until it threatens to overshadow the entire horizon of their lives. Accordingly, the more important the issue is to a person, the greater the intensity of the conflict.

When unity thrives, people share a common ground more important to them than other issues that might divide them. Additionally, the more important a shared value, the deeper the bond of unity. Conflict and unity are fruits of what is valued.

Paul called the Philippian church to the unity of "standing firm in one spirit" (Philippians 1:27), being "united in spirit, and intent on one purpose" (Philippians 2:2). Any group of people will naturally exhibit a wide diversity of opinions regarding how things should be done. How can harmony and unity be molded out of such incongruent parts? What should be so powerful and valuable for Christians that it overshadows the squabbles and differing opinions in order to cement the bond of unshakable unity?

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul pointed God’s people toward the goal of "striving together for the  faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). Striving for the faith of the gosple should be more important to God’s people than whether their preferred color scheme is chosen, whether services are at 9 or 10 a.m., or whether the congregation sits on pews or chairs. Although some people have strong preferences in these matters, what is most important is the furtherance of the faith.

Paul tied this unity to the mind of Christ. Unlike the attitude that thinks foremost about its own desires, the mind of Christ is characterized by love for others.

One critical aspect of the recipe for Christian unity involves pouring the mind of Christ over the goal of working together for the faith of the gospel. This is love pursuing a God-given purpose. And of course, such unity should permeate those whom God has joined together within the body of Christ.

True love revolves around seeking to supply needs for the wellbeing of others. Having the mind of Christ undermines self-centered ambitions. Ensuring that striving for the faith of the gospel continues to shape the lives of Christians should be paramount to the church.



Barry Newton
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