This Sunday, we will explore one of the most revered and celebrated passages in the Bible, Philippians 2:1-11. This beloved part of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi offers an insightful glimpse at how the first Christians understood the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and what it means to be His church.
As Disciples, we like to claim a quote most often attributed to Saint Augustine. “In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty and in everything love.” If asked, I think that Paul would call this statement one of the essential doctrines of Jesus’ church in that day (and this). It affirms the mysterious divinity and humanity of Jesus and then focuses on his intentional choice to, “though being in very nature God, empty himself and become a slave,” and ultimately give his life away. Paul want to make it abundantly clear to anyone who would read his letter; This is our humble Lord.
Then Paul offers an important directive that we would all do well to consider. “Be of the same mind, of the same love and in full accord with the person and teachings of Jesus.” Seeing the potential for division, Paul sought to proclaim the key to church unity as clearly as possible. Unity is possible by focusing on the teachings and ways of Jesus. As the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), this is our sole confession that binds us together in unity, a commitment to believe and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Additionally, this passage points us to a way of living out that confession… in humility. Foremost in the way of Jesus, we see humility. Humility is the key, that the church would follow Jesus in “regarding others as better than ourselves.”
Church unity comes from corporate humility. -Leonard Ravenhill