Being one in spirit and purpose


Once again we are being challenged as Christians to be of “one spirit and one mind.” The challenge to we Christians today is no different than the one that Paul was making to the Philippians 2,000 years ago. What is the one spirit and the one mind that we are all to be united in? Jesus Christ. Nothing more, and nothing less.

This like-mindedness and unity that Paul is admonishing us to recognize and to promote in the Christian community is based on our threefold experience with Christ, God’s love, and the Spirit. Christ is the self-expression of the Father. The Spirit is the love of the Father expressed in the Son that remains with us today. In other words, God is One and he calls us to be one in him. As Paul writes, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united in 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.” (verses 1-2)

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In faith, we understand this admonition, but we also know, in fact, that the unity that God calls us to still eludes us. How are we too live in this unity? Well, the Spirit is kind enough to give us the answer to that question in this passage from the Letter to the Philippians as well. The key, as always, is humility. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value [all] others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others.” (verses 3-4) There is, though, one thing that can separate us from the love of God—-pride.

What is our model for this unity? Again, the Spirit provides the answer for us here: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (verses 5-8) We Christians are called, then, to imitate Christ and the humility and love that he modeled to us. The unity that we are called to as Christians will be founded in our humble, Christ-like love for one another. Hence, Jesus’ only commandment to us: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

Lord, help us to fix our minds on you alone. Help us to recognize and to turn away from whatever divides us. Unite us in humble, Christ-like love for one another so that the world will see your love in us and be drawn to it. We pray earnestly believing in the power of your most holy name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.