Only let you manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel… (Philippians 1:27, emphasis mine).
Paul’s challenge to the Philippian church is also a challenge to our local churches two millennia later. Much internal conflict and complaining exist over issues of preference and not biblical truth today. In order to turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ (Acts 17:6), we must lay our preferences aside and strive for unity, including between ethnicities and between generations (i.e. boomers, millennials, etc.).
…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Philippians 2:2, NAS)
For followers of Jesus Christ in the local church, a life worthy of the gospel is a marked by love and unity in purpose. My local church has summarized this purpose through four key elements: exalt the Living God, explain the Word of God, encourage the family of God, and extend the love of God….so that everyone who is touched by God through our ministry will come into a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. After explaining the “what”, Paul transitions to the “how” and “why” in the following verses.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Simply stated, we (young and old) must move beyond our own desires and personal preferences. It is essential that local churches move beyond arguing over facilities, music styles, worship components, or whether coffee should be permitted in Sunday services. Rather, we must strive together for the proclamation of the Word, personal holiness, discipleship, and reaching a hell-bound world with the gospel of Jesus Christ- the ONLY hope this world has!
Jesus Christ is our perfect example in this area. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8)”. The Majestic Lord, immense in power, worshiped by angels, and Who’s voice shook the temple foundations in Isaiah 6 to “And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7)”. Music styles and coffee seem so insignificant in comparison.
Finally, our attitudes inside the church will affect our witness outside the church.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14-15)
We all have personal preferences, inside the church and life in general. Yet, for the furthering of the gospel, the health of local churches, and ultimately for the glory of Jesus Christ- we must lay these personal preferences aside and stand firm in one spirit, striving side by side.