I was talking with a group of young ladies tonight about the high bar that Paul sets for Christian unity. We are studying Philippians together and the message of sacrificial unity is clear and unapologetic.
Therefore 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.
Churches are made up of people from different walks of life. The early church, like the modern church, dealt with issues of division, differences of opinion and world views. Paul didn't let them off the hook, nor are we let off the hook today.
Our small group has spoken over the weeks about how it feels to be judged and maligned, and how they as a generation want to do a better job of showing grace. They deeply feel the injustice of being labeled "unacceptable" by those further along the path of faith. The understandable, but unfortunate result of that hurt is distrust and resentment for those they feel have rejected them.
When asked how they, like the Philippian church, can overcome divisions of class, culture, and offense, they've said, "I won't be the first to apologize. Them first." To initiate a resolution is to put yourself in harm's way; to be vulnerable to attack and further rejection.
Like the girls, we often desire to do better, but choose instead to hold onto grudges, further entrenching ourselves in division. If reconciliation is left to "them first," how can anything change? How do we climb out of the trenches we've dug? Who will volunteer to put themselves in the crosshairs, in order to broker a cease-fire?
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-
even death on a cross!
If we are going to rise to the challenge that Paul gave the Philippian church, we have to take a posture of radical humility. We must allow God to use us as bridge builders; to be willing to face rejection, to be the one to cross the aisle and extend an olive branch. The Spirit of God is looking for peace-makers. Instead of "them first," will you volunteer?