Bible Reading: Philippians 2:1-4
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
if any comfort from his love,
if any common sharing in the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
As I read Paul’s letter to the Philippians it feels like I am reading a letter from a loving father to his distant children, containing a mixture of love, encouragement, hope, guidance and the occasional gentle correction. I guess that is how he saw his relationship with this early group of Christians.
The Church in Philippi was established from scratch by Paul and, by today’s standards, was quite cosmopolitan. Paul’s early contacts included Lydia, a businesswoman who most likely had a Jewish background, a goaler who was probably Roman, if not Greek, and a slave girl who could have been from any country in the Roman Empire. See Acts 16 for more detail.
Like most groups, Christian or otherwise, there would no doubt have been a few tensions and differences of opinion. I think this is behind Paul’s desire to turn their eyes away from their own personal ambitions and vanity and to focus their minds on the unity they have in Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the underlying principle to love.
It is sad when friends fall out, especially so within a Church. As Christians we always have more in common with our Christian brothers and sisters than we have differences. We all believe in God our creator, we all believe that Jesus died and rose again, we all believe that he sent us his Holy Spirit and we all believe in eternal life in heaven. We also believe that Jesus taught us to love God and to love one another as he loves us and to be united together with Christ, in love.
Paul longed for the Philippians to make his joy complete by being united together. Where we have differences of priority, of emphasis or of interpretation of some of the secondary issues of our faith let us proceed together in humility, in love, and in unity, and let us make God's joy complete.
Give me the grace, Lord Jesus, to walk in love and humility with my Christian brothers and sisters, so that together we might bring joy to your heart and see your kingdom come. Amen
From heaven you came