Time for a quiz! What will make Paul’s joy “complete” (2:2)? What does humility produce in our relationships (2:3)? What does Paul think is a key feature of the Church? If you answered unity in Christ to all three, you’re right. Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” more than 170 times. He uses it to talk about how we can know Jesus’ love and mercy. He uses it to tell us that we are redeemed through faith in Christ. And he uses it to describe the way we can find unity in our families, our Church, and the world. Essentially, unity with each other grows as we grow in our union with Christ.
The church in Philippi seems to have been suffering some kind of division. It’s unclear whether the lack of unity was caused by people inside the church or by outside agitators. Paul’s answer would have been the same in either case: place unity with one another as your highest goal. Paul isn’t saying that everyone has to think the same way. Having different opinions is healthy because it can expand our minds. At the same time, we have to make sure that our different opinions don’t cause pain and division. We need to be careful not to let these differences become greater than our love—especially in our homes. If that happens, we need to stop, cool down, and remember the greater goal.
We all experience an internal tug-of-war between selfishness and selflessness, between pride and humility. We all have to “die to ourselves” and live for God. The more we win this tug-of-war, the more we will be able to love one another and live in harmony. So make a conscious effort not to let divisive emotions get the upper hand. Try to listen to everyone you meet and to treat them like a brother or sister. In short, “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).