In the last post we meditated on what Philippians 2 can teach us about the implications of the mind of Christ for our relationships. We emphasized that the mind of Christ motivates us to love, humility, and unity, and that it necessarily involves unity.
What does this unity mean? For St. Paul, it means embodying unity of mind, unity of love, and being in “one accord.”
Unity of Mind
If we’re going to have unity in the body of Christ, we must haveunity of mind (understanding, doctrine): “being like-minded . . . of one mind” (v. 2). “Mind” is from the Greek word froneo. In other places in Paul’s writings, this word is translated to think, to set your mind on something, to formulate views on something, to be concerned or feel strongly about something.
Paul is saying here that unity presupposes feeling strongly about the truth. The historic teaching of the church is that unity and theological truth go together. When unity is absent in the church, Satan is more apt to come in and stir up false doctrine, and vice versa—when false doctrine gets a foothold in the church, unity becomes worthless because it’s no longer unity in Christ and his truth.
So true Christian unity cannot exist if people aren’t settled on Christ and his truth. This means that unity is not something that has to do only with touchy-feely emotions and nothing to do with the mind and doctrine and theology. We can never have true Christian unity at the expense of truth—at the expense of Christ’s own view of reality.
Unity in Love
But unity in the truth is not enough. To embody the mind of Christ in our relationships, we must achieve unity in love: “having the same love [agape]” (v. 2).
Love is what makes unity possible. It’s the glue that holds people together. 1 John 4:20-21 says: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” We must exhibit behavior that shows that we love our brothers.
What is love? In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, Paul gives us 13 characteristics of agape love: It is patient and kind; not jealous; doesn’t brag; isn’t arrogant, rude, selfish, irritable, or resentful; rejoices in the truth, not in wrongdoing; is protective, faithful, hopeful, and enduring. This is the kind of love that Paul believes is necessary for Christian unity.
In One Accord
If we are together in truth and love, we will be in one accord—sharing the same feelings, being intent on the same Christ-centered vision. Unity means being in one accord” (v. 2), laboring together with the same heart, the same depth of feeling. Unity means being intent on the same purpose—what we are working for, what we are trying to accomplish.
What we have here is a unity that involves the total personality. We are to be united in our minds (what we think), our hearts (how we feel), and our wills (what we do).
In the next post, I’ll discuss the greatest enemy of unity, the greatest thing that keeps us from embodying the mind of Christ in our relationships: Pride.