September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”—Philippians 3:15–16 (NIV)
Let’s start today by thinking about the theater. Perhaps you went as a kid to see a live play in the theater, or you have been to Broadway, or you have seen a sweet and simple show at your local school. Whatever the case may be, it’s understood that in a theatrical performance, there’s a unified purpose amongst the people to perform with excellence and tell their story well. In order to do this, everyone must take on different roles. Not only are there different acting roles within the actual show, but there are even different roles in who stage manages or runs production or makes the set and costumes. Each of these people are important to the success of the show, and they each are united by one purpose.
When we think about this, we can better understand what Paul was trying to say as he reminds the people in Philippi that everyone can agree “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7 NIV). This is what unites them: their purpose to know God more and therefore make Him known; to reach maturity in the faith. What does that look like? Well, the Greek word for mature is teleioi, which means “fully-grown; complete in all its parts; mature from going through the necessary stages to reach the goal.”
Now, he’s not saying those who are mature are perfect or sinless. Instead, he’s saying they will live in a way that’s “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27 NIV), be “one in spirit and of one mind,” “in humility value others above [themselves]” (Philippians 2:1–4 (NIV), work out their salvation (Philippians 2:12), see things the world values as “loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8 NIV), and know they hadn’t yet arrived and needed to continue to “press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14 NIV).
Nonetheless, he addresses there will be differences in opinion on other issues. His encouragement in this is simple yet profound. We must allow God to make it clear for us. We must intentionally listen for His Spirit and seek understanding in His Word, yet we must also cling to what we know to be true.
The core essence of our faith is the gospel, our need of a Savior (Jesus Christ our Messiah; our amazing, triune God), and the necessity of receiving His gift of salvation and surrendering our lives to Him forever. When we can uplift the essential doctrine and values of our faith, then the secondary beliefs that vary between Christians can be entrusted to the Lord to work out.
If we allow the enemy to succeed in distracting, hindering, or tripping us up over the smaller issues we disagree over, then we are allowing him to sow disunity from within the body of Christ. We must stand firm on our foundation and cornerstone, which is Jesus Himself and the truth of His Word and continually go back to that as a reminder of who we are and what we are called to do on this earth.
Pause: Have you allowed or seen the enemy sow disunity within the body of Christ because of certain disagreements or frustrations he focused you on? How so?
Practice: Take time to think about what is essential to the Christian faith and what is of secondary importance. Perhaps research or ask trusted spiritual mentors to start the conversation. Look at how these distinctions may impact certain denominations yet think about how the unified doctrine can still bring us together.
Pray: Precious Father, thank You for Your grace on me in the midst of my imperfection. As I seek to honor You in the way I work with others as a unified body of Christ, may You grant me wisdom and persistence so I can discuss topics by going to Your truth yet also in patience and love for other believers. May I be firm on Your foundation and the core of my faith so I can stand united with You. Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.