"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." - Philippians 2:1-4
Notice that it all depends on being “united in Christ”.
One of the big challenges of every church, from the Philippians down to churches in the 21st century, is this idea of being united. Unity is not the same as uniformity.
In other words, look at it this way. Remember communist China under Mao Tse Tung? Remember how everyone was supposed to think alike? And everyone was even supposed to dress alike, in those Mao outfits that looked like cheap uniforms. Yes, that is exactly what they were, to produced uniformity. Regimentation. Lack of originality. Abdication of any spark of creativity.
That is NOT what Paul expects the church to be like (regimented, dull, uncreative). How boring and frankly lifeless it would be, if the church were like that.
Uniformity is NOT the same thing as being United in Christ. Being United in Christ is described very well in another letter of Paul’s where he talks about Christ being the head and all of those who believe in him being parts of the body of Christ.
Jesus came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Jesus came not to change you from a unique person into an automaton, but from a lost person into a found person. Your personality, gifts and insights are all the more valuable when shared in the fellowship of the faithful. So, too, apart from that fellowship, they fade and turn cold. Any faithful Christian will acknowledge how foolish it is to break fellowship with others for selfish reasons.
“Self-justification and judging belong together,” said Dietrich Bonheoffer,”as justification by grace and serving belong together.”
Here’s the thing…