What comes to mind when you think of the word unity? You probably think of something pertaining to “oneness.” In my years in competitive sports, I often (admittedly, not such a good thing in my heart, was it!?) felt some twinge of hopefulness that our team would win when I saw the other team quarreling and divided amongst themselves. Contrarily, it was a bad sign when our team was the one suffering from the infighting. The team that is functioning well as a unit, in oneness, is a beautiful thing to behold. In basketball, it could be the point guard having an open shot, but passing off to a forward who is closer to the basket, who in turn bounces a pass to the post for any easy layup. Following the basket, the scorer, instead of beating his chest and putting up a “#1” to tout his own glory, points to his teammate, acknowledging the one who made the good pass. Unity, unselfishness and even love amongst teammates…poetry in action.
How does that relate to a church body? The Bible repeatedly acknowledges the importance of teamwork, and it was lacking to some extent with the church in Philippi. A coach could harshly bench his starting five who are being selfish and divided. But Paul doesn’t condemn his church friends in Philippi, or take them out of the game. Instead, he graciously affirms the good things that they are doing, but prays for them, encouraging and exhorting them to grow in love for each other, with the end result being that God will receive glory. How then should we respond when we see signs of division? Philippians 1:9-11 has some great words for us in the way that it encourages us to abound in love and prayer for our brothers and sisters. By putting others above ourselves, we will in the end have more joy, the church will function well together, and God will be praised.
Rev. Darol Timberlake, Assistant Pastor