… let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and 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 (ESV)
I’m not sure a more powerful or compelling synopsis of a healthy, God-glorifying church has ever been written. Consider the profound themes and implications of Paul’s admonition:
1) Collective Testimony – Our lives as believers (and as members of the local body of believers known as Calvary Baptist Church) must reflect the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This collective testimony must be so vibrant that it is talked about. Are people in our city talking about the radiant witness of our people? Are they talking about our enthusiastic love for God and one another? Is there a “buzz” about us and our church because we are truly changed people?
2) Spiritual Tenacity – As God’s people/church, we must hold firm to the immovable anchor of the Word of God even as the rising tide of a godless culture presses hard against us. In love, we must proclaim the truth, protect the truth, and live the truth. Together, we must teach and admonish one another, hold each other accountable, and support one another in prayer and life-on-life relationships. And as we do, we will demonstrate the compelling attraction of a genuine biblical community that is of one spirit and mind.
3) Missional Unity – Though we are from different generations, different backgrounds, different experiences, and different walks of life, we must be unified. This unity cannot be superficial and based on inferior causes such as our preferred places to worship, programs we enjoy, people we are friends with, and personalities who lead us. It must be rooted in something infinitely larger: the mandate of God to make disciples everywhere we go. This purpose and this purpose alone qualifies us a “church”. For this gospel purpose, we must, as the NIV says, “contend as one man” for. This selfless, God-glorifying commitment to His cause while we consciously and conscientiously surrender our own lesser ‘causes’ defeats the strategies of the enemy, honors the glory of King, and propels the mission of the Kingdom.
My prayer is that these realities will genuinely mark us as a people/church. Will you read and re-read that passage (in its larger context) from Philippians? Will you ask God to show you His will in it for you and for us together? Will you carefully consider what I have written and decide if you are in agreement with me that those are indeed characteristics of a healthy church and therefore God’s will for us? And will you renew the commitments God wants you to renew, and/or reject the attitudes and behaviors He convicts you of, and respond in obedience to His leadership?
For His Glory Alone ...