*This is a re-post from May 30, 2013. The title comes from a hymn, and it’s an always-important subject that I’m excited to share again.*
A friend and I have been talking lately about what it means to truly be a Christian and shine your light to others. One of the main things we’ve focused on has been unity based solely on what the Bible says and how without this unity in the church, it’s very difficult to be a family as God has designed us to be, much less bring others to Christ.
Philippians 2 focuses mainly on these two subjects, and Paul writes that we are to be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind,” and to “look out for the interests of others” (2:2-4). This is something that won’t always be an easy task, but in order to carry out God’s will for the church, we have to learn to work together for the cause of the gospel.
We are individual parts of one body that is working together to reach our goal — we are the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-16, Colossians 1:24). We understand that our physical bodies can only fully function if we take care of them; if all of our joints are healthy, we are more likely to have success in physical endeavors. This is a visual that Paul uses in Ephesians 4:1-16. One of the first things he says in this passage is that Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the “edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v.11-13). We have a responsibility to work together until our body’s (church’s) stature is of the fullness of Christ, because He is the head of the church. As the chapter continues, there are suggestions about how individuals can help the whole body grow. We are to speak the truth in love, and be solid in our convictions so we “may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (4:15-16). This means that, despite our personality differences, frustrations with others, or simply not knowing one of our brothers or sisters very well, we are to use the abilities we have individually to build up our brothers and sisters, keeping in mind that we are all striving toward the same goal and working for the same Master. Being part of a body also means we need to take care of each other spiritually, just as we would take care of our physical body — not tearing each other down, but encouraging and helping each other along. We won’t always be completely happy with each other or decisions that are made, but we need to learn to put aside any differences — as long as they don’t stray from God’s word — so that we can all successfully work as one body to bring others to Christ and ultimately reach the goal of heaven with our Lord.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.