In my next few posts, I want to meditate on the implications of the mind of Christ for our relationships, as gleaned from the first four verses of Philippians 2. As we put on the mind of Christ, we will realize in community what it means to be the people God designed us to be, and the people he is recreating us in Christ to be.
We will never be able to have relationships that glorify God without the proper motivation. Putting on the mind of Christ gives us the ultimate motivation for the sorts of virtues we need to embody as we relate to others.
The mind of Christ motivates us to love, humility, and unity (v. 1).Paul mentions four motivations in particular:
· Consolation (encouragement) in Christ
· Comfort flowing from Christ’s love
· Fellowship (koinonia, community) made possible by the Spirit in us emanating to others
· Affection (tenderness) and mercy
Since these qualities exist, because of Christ, Paul says, make my joy complete by living in oneness or unity. In other words, these truths make unity possible, and they make it necessary. There is no way we can exhibit Christian unity without these Christlike traits. And there is no way we can keep from exhibiting unity if we embody these Christlike traits.
These are things that come from Christ through the Spirit, and they emanate from the true follower of Christ to others. Those who really have encouragement or consolation from Christ of necessity encourage and give consolation to others. Those who receive the comfort flowing from Christ’s love extend that comfort of love to others. Those who are beneficiaries of the community orkoinonia of the Spirit seek to foster that fellowship with others. Those who have been on the receiving end of Christ’s tenderness, his affection, and his mercy, are tender with others, they show their affection to others, and they’re merciful to others. If these things are true—if they are really true, Paul says, make my joy complete by living in unity with each other.
The mind of Christ motivates us to work toward Christlike relationships with others. And Paul says that this motivation, these first principles for Christian relationships, demand unity.
Having the mind of Christ means being united (v. 2). The unity of Christians needs to be an outward unity that is observable by the watching world. If we expect to be believable to the watching world, we must exhibit observable behavior that shows that we love our brothers.
Remember what Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). In John 17:21, Jesus prays “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.”
Francis Schaeffer, in his wonderful little book, The Mark of the Christian, says: “This is the final apologetic [the final defense of the faith]. In John 13 the point was that if an individual Christian does not show love toward other true Christians, the world has a right to judge that he is not a Christian. Here [in John 17], Jesus is stating something else which is much more cutting, much more profound: we cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.”
In the next post, I will discuss what this unity looks like.