For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.
1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Paul’s seeks one thing from the Philippians. Their manner of life to be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Now my question is – Is Paul talking of an individuals manner of life, or the church body as an organism?
Of course, individual Christians are to have a manner of life that is worthy of the gospel, and we may come back to the concept of worthiness, but for now, let us consider if Paul is referring to the church body life in this verse. Notice that he speaks of unity in this verse.
- Standing firm in one spirit
- With one mind
- Striving side by side for the faith of the gospel
This list on descriptions, detailing Paul’s hope for the church cannot be applied to the individual, for it speaks of the group representing the gospel with a unifying front.
One item that I would like to draw your attention to, and that I find to be a source of division within the modern church (of which there are many sources of division) is the claim for a group of believers to have doctrinal purity. This concept is addressed in Philippians 4:5, where we are instructed to be reasonable.
I have, as many may know, spent much of my Christian life emphasizing hair splitting doctrines in order to cause discussion/debate. Discussion! More like division at times! But that is the result of pride. (Proverbs 11:2)
I must admit, many times it was to simply show others that I had knowledge of the topic – how foolish!
Paul is looking for a church that will present a united front even though there may be some disagreement within the group (Consider Philippians 4:2 – Euodia and Syntyche). He is looking for a church that has one spirit and one mind, striving for the faith of the gospel.
When he speaks of one mind, some may equate that with one set of doctrinal facts, for I know at one time I also did, but I must admit now, that I see the term “one mind” as attitude of mind, an attitude of service as described in a few verses ahead (Philippians 2:5), the mind of Christ being led into greater and greater humiliation and service to us.
There are central tenets of the faith that are non-negotiable, but let us provide space for the negotiable in others lives. Let us center around the person whom we claim to follow, and not a list of doctrines that separate us from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.