“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2)
The if-then statement from the verse above is an example of a conditional statement. I found the following definition of one on a math geek website:
|Summary:||A conditional statement, symbolized by pq, is an if-then statement in which p is a hypothesis and q is a conclusion. The conditional is defined to be true unless a true hypothesis leads to a false conclusion.|
“The conditional is defined to be true unless a true hypothesis leads to a false conclusion.” So I guess first we have to ask ourselves about the truth in the hypothesis section of the Philippians 2 passage. Are we encouraged from belonging to Christ? Do we find comfort in His love? Can we engage in Spirit-filled fellowship with tender and compassionate hearts? I feel that sitting down and taking time to truly ponder these questions is not for the faint of heart.
Yet, when we find we are able to answer these questions in the affirmative we can move on to the second section of the passage, the conclusion. And it is here that the real work begins. Because if we answered “yes” to feeling encouraged, comforted and engaged in Christ then the logical conclusion would be that we, as fellow Christ-followers, agree wholeheartedly, love one another and work together in unity. Here is an argument for such a case:
“I hope I remember that while we will never agree with everyone all the time, we can give our best effort to getting along. Partly because it feels better to live at peace with others, but also because it shows obedience to and love for God. It shows that we place value on something outside of ourselves when we refuse to be selfish and stubborn, instead choosing flexibility and fellowship.”-Mary Carver (Fast Talk and Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls)
Sometimes it has felt like the conclusion to Philippians 2:1-2 is a false one in Christian circles. This shouldn’t be! While I can identify with the idea that we won’t agree with everyone all the time, this doesn’t mean we should cut ourselves off from living together in community. Both flexibility and fellowship are becoming increasingly important and, dare I say, increasingly rare in these times.
I found a great version of the song, They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love. As I listened to it I was reminded again of the important witness a life lived out of love can play in our world.
I want to leave you with a final quote from Mary Carver’s Fast Talk and Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls: “Who is asking you to be flexible today? Can you choose to have one mind and one purpose, compromising out of compassion and love? Today ask God to help you love others by working together – even when everything isn’t exactly the way you want it.”