Posted by: Brad Beaman | September 27, 2007

Prescription for Church Unity, Philippians 1:27-30

It seems like there is a real danger for the church in that, the stronger they hold to their beliefs, the greater the chance of disunity. There is such need for us, with our great beliefs that we hold dear, to talk about church unity.

Philippians 1:27-30

Introduction: You may notice that during this time of the year that many of our men around the country are glued to the football games on television. College football is such a great part of American tradition. It all builds up to the bowl games at the end. That is what people are waiting for, to win the big bowl game. There may not be another bowl game more prestigious than the Rose Bowl. College players will dream of making it to the Rose Bowl to play under this great college football tradition.

One man who actually lived out that college dream was named Roy Regal. He made it to the Rose Bowl and was able to play in this great game. He did more than just play. He got his hands on the football and he ran. He ran all the way down the field almost the full one hundred yards, making it almost all the way across the goal line before he was finally tackled.

He lived out the dream. Yet this dream was not the dream he thought it was. There were two problems with the run that Roy Regal made. One is he was going the wrong direction and secondly he was tackled by his own player.

This is a picture of disunity. The team normally goes one way together across the goal line. Can you imagine if in a church there is this kind of disunity? A church where someone is running in the wrong direction and being tackled by their own teammate. Church unity is so important.

It seems like there is a real danger for the church in that, the stronger a person holds to their beliefs, and the more their beliefs are important to them, the greater the chance of disunity. People hold strong to their beliefs seem to collide.

There is such need for us, with our great beliefs that we hold dear, to talk about church unity. If someone does not care about their beliefs they don’ t clash over beliefs. When we hold our values dear it is important that we think of them in terms of church unity. In Philippi they struggled with this problem of disunity. We find insight into this disunity in Philippians 4:3 Paul’s focuses in on this problem of disunity.

In Philippians1: 27-30 Paul brings us a prescription for church unity. In our church we have a theme of unity. In our building program we say, together we build. Together speaks of unity. We say in our building program, united we stand. That word united represents church unity. Unity is important and we now more than ever need to consider what the Bible says to us about church unity.

Illustration: Uniformity: One thing church unity does not mean is uniformity. It does not mean we force everyone into the same mold. I saw a cartoon, which pictured a youth talking to a religious leader. The youth had spiked hair, an earring and a chain around his neck and all the trendy clothes. Apparently this youth had made some kind of religious commitment. The religious leader was standing before the youth and saying, “You know young man that this means you are going to have to dress normally.”

When you saw the religious leader he was wearing a bishop’s hat that rises up about two feet with a cross on it. He carried a staff and wore a robe and an enormous cross. You wondered what this religious leader meant when he said dress normal. We do not force everyone into uniformity. When we talk about church unity we mean a unity of purpose. We mean a focus on Jesus Christ that gives us a common bond together. We hold these things in common and we move in the same direction.

I) The Source of Church Unity. Vs 27
Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This could be a great life verse. It could be a theme for the whole of your Christian life. To live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul says there is a reason that he wants them to live worthy. He says that weather he comes or stays that there would be a unity of purpose. He knows he may come to see them again, but on the other hand Paul may not make it. He is saying whether I come or do not come you must be unified in purpose.

Living worthy So many times people wait for a key leader to come to get their act together. I remember when I worked for the Quaker Oats Company and the big corporate executives would come in and visit the manufacturing plant. They would announce their visit and we would prepare for weeks in advance. We would get ready for this big visit cleaning up every part of the premises. It was just right so that when they took their five-minute pass through our floor everything would look beautiful.

I have heard of dignitaries visiting cities. Where the dignitary would pass they would paint the front of the buildings in the poor broken down areas leaving the backside broken down. They painted just the front so the dignitaries would see fresh paint as they passed by. It was a façade. That is why government inspectors will arrive unannounced because it is easy to put up that kind of façade. Paul says (Philippians 1:27) whether I come or do not come you are to be living a life worthy of the gospel. It means an ongoing lifestyle. Not just getting ready for these moments. Not just when you are in the presence in other Christians and putting up some kind of front. Living worthy of the gospel, this prescription for church unity means an ongoing Christian walk with God.

It means living for Christ day in and day out. The word that Paul uses was a Greek word that had to do with citizenship. Paul was bringing forth the idea that our citizenship was more than this earthly citizenship. We are citizens of heaven and we need to live worthy of that calling as citizens of heaven. It says, whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. If you are using the King James Version it says, have your conversation worthy of the gospel. When the King James Version was written conversation had to do with whole lifestyle.

More than just words but everything that you do and say and how you act. So as believers, our whole life needs to be conformed to Christ. This is the prescription for to church unity. Our focus is really on Jesus and we are living and walking the lifestyle Christ has for us. That we are living a higher duty as citizens of heaven. Paul says it is because you live worthy that you will stand firm in one spirit.
The idea that Paul is bringing about is like a group of soldiers standing together in battle. It is as though they are trenched in and holding their ground and won’t move. They are not going to yield to circumstances. Paul knew the Philippians faced many difficulties. They had to go against the Roman law that seemed to be directly against their Christian stance. They had the problem that public opinion was against the Christians. They had problems of unbelief in their midst and they had the problems of skeptics around them.

Paul is saying live your life worthy of the gospel. Do not compromise, but make a stand to make sure of your Christian unity. Church unity for us does not mean that we all think alike, but we need this unity of purpose. It means that we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives so we live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the source of church unity. Paul goes on to tell us the results of church unity.

II) The Results of Church Unity. Vs 28

Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them, that they are not frightened. If our church is unified together then we are not going to be frightened. The word Paul uses is the word used when a horse would flinch. Have you seen when you move your arm near a horse and the horse flinches back?

Paul says if we are unified we are not going to be flinching. We are not moving back in the face of evil. Fear can be a tremendous thing. Fear can control people in so many ways. As a church we are not to be afraid of opposition. Paul is saying we are to be encouraged. When we are standing in church unity the results of that is that we are not flinching.

I remember once seeing a Pastor called Pastor Tom and he stood about six foot seven inches tall and he weighed about 250 pounds. He would walk tall afraid of nothing. I saw him walk into a spiritualist satanic type church to share the gospel. Here was a man unafraid. Here was a man who was not flinching.

What Paul is talking about is more than just a macho Christian image that walks into the face of evil. It is an inner quality of strength that comes from a daily walk with God. When we stand together unified we find that we draw strength from one another. We find a special strength that comes from God. It is not from human resources.

As the Philippians stood unified they had courage. They were unflinching. Paul said it would be evident in two ways. One of the evidences of standing unified is that those that oppose you will be destroyed. If we stand together unified as a body of Christ with a common purpose in Christ then those who oppose us will see a sign. They will read it like on a billboard; those who oppose us will be destroyed.

There is another message. Those standing together will be saved. It is a testimony of our own Christian faith when we stand together. How much in this day do we need a church that will stand together is unity. It will bring a testimony to the glory and honor of God. Our unity will sound together as a warning to those who would persecute the church. It is a testimony to our own salvation and a warning to those who would persecute us.

Paul gives us souse of unity that we live worthy of the Gospel. Paul gives us the result of unity that we live courageous Christian lives. Paul also gives us the test of unity that we endure suffering.

III) The Test of Church Unity Is That We Endure Suffering Vs. 29-30

You know a general in an army is going to choose his best soldiers for the hardest task. If there is something really difficult than he will take his best men and give the task to them. As soldiers of Christ the difficult tasks are going to be given to those really living the Christian life. Those who stand together in unity will face suffering and persecution. It happened there in Philippi. That church faced difficulties. Paul himself was beaten to the point of death and put in jail there in Philippi. Paul said, Vs.30 you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Paul was beaten and put in jail there in Philippi. Paul said you are facing these kinds of hardships that I faced and am still facing. Paul is writing from prison still undergoing these kinds of hardships. When we are together in Christian unity we can expect to face some kind of opposition. Paul refers to this kind of suffering as a grace. It was like a gift given to them. As odd as it seems that suffering would be a gift of God. Paul said in this way it is. This is not just any suffering, but that which comes in standing for Jesus Christ.

We live in a world where everybody suffers. Christians and non-Christians get a cold, flu or have a car accident. This is not unique to Christians. This is not the kind of suffering that Paul is saying the Philippian Christians are graced with. It is when we stand unified that we may suffer persecution because of our stance. It is in this time of persecution for righteousness sake that we say Christians have been graced with a certain type of suffering. When we suffer for Christ’s sake that is glorious. How we stand when persecution comes is the test of unity. Do people splinter off or do we really stand unified in purpose?

Christians face difficulty when they really stand for the cause of Christ. There are those that oppose the cause of Christ. There are those who will cause difficulties for anyone who preaches the gospel of Christ.

I often wonder what happened at this church on June 23 at 7:00 PM. There was a vote taken for us to my call as pastor. There where three missionaries present here from a cult that night. They came here not to worship Christ, but to look to bring dissatisfied people into their fold. They came here with that purpose in mind, but they saw an amazing unity among the believers here in this church. The Scripture says that unity makes a testimony. We voted that night with a one hundred percent unity. I wonder what went through their minds when the Gospel was preached here that night.

Church unity starts by living worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to live worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ until you have committed your heart to Christ. Won’t you commit yourself to Christ at this very moment?

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Responses

  1. Hey, I thought you might enjoy this somewhat shocking sermon on Church unity:

    http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=65bd1e280187eabbb039

  2. You can take a small step towards Christian Unity by signing the petition to unite the Dates of Easter at http://www.onedate.org that Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox would celebrate this Feast of Feasts all on One Date.

  3. Hey Brad,
    You really made these few verses come to life for me. I am doing a Bible study with a few friends next week so this really brought it to life.

    Thanks

  4. This was powerful.
    Thank you for this teachings.

    Carlos 908 884 8871


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