Phil. 2:2 Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.
Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].
Phil. 2:4 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.
One of the most powerful attributes of the book of Acts church was the unity they walked in. This does not mean they didn’t have their differences, and sometimes those differences caused issues, but they worked through them and continued to fulfill their purpose because unity ultimately kept them together. In the above verses we see the apostle Paul speaking about this type of unity with the church at Philippi.
Paul here speaks about the importance of walking in a true spirit of humility, regarding others better than yourself. Paul is not recommending that we should demean ourselves, for it was Paul himself that spoke of the importance of knowing who we are in Christ. What Paul is referring to is an example that is seen in the life of Jesus Himself, and that we should follow in that example to walk in unity as a body.
Phil. 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Phil. 2:6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
Phil. 2:7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
So here Paul using Jesus as our example reveals what should be the focus of every believer in developing unity. Notice in verse 7 Paul shows us this focus in Christ’s life, which is to become a servant. Remember Jesus Himself said that He did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for us. He Himself said that He only did that which He saw the Father doing. Jesus was the Father’s servant, and therefore took on a servant mentality in reaching out to mankind. To become a servant one must take their focus off of self, which is where the humility comes in. When focused on ourselves we are looking at the wrong thing, and focusing on self will not bring about unity in the body of Christ.
Rom. 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God…
Here is what all who are born again need to become focused on. We are to be bondservants of Jesus Christ. This is what the focus of the church that walked in unity was all about. They were striving to serve Jesus Christ in and through their lives. A bondservant refers to a voluntary slave. They were not made to serve Jesus; they did so by their own choice. Their focus was not on themselves; it was on Jesus Christ. This is the first key to the power of unity that was created in the book of Acts church.
When we are focused on ourselves, we are easily offended at what others may say to us, and we become very defense and therefore divisive. This will result in disunity. Instead of working to resolve difference on both ends, we instead feel like we are the “victim” and want to then defend ourselves. This keeps us from walking in the power of unity and experiencing what God wants to bring about in and through our lives. We must learn to keep our focus on Jesus.
So the first key to walking in unity is that we must make sure we don’t get focused on self, but instead as Hebrews 12:2 tells us we need to get our focus on Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Just like Jesus we need to stop focusing on our reputation as Philippians 2:7 states, trying to prove ourselves to others. Instead we need to become a bondservant of Jesus Christ. As Paul states we should have this same mind which was in Christ Jesus.
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
Acts 2:44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
Acts 2:45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Acts 2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
As this New Testament church was birthed we see some powerful things that reveals to us how they continued to walk unified as the body of Christ seeing God do many miraculous things through the body. The first thing we see in verse 42 above is that the disciples continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. Simply stated this means they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teachings. The word steadfast means to give constant attention to, and to persevere.
To give constant attention to the teaching of the apostle’s they were first and foremost showing up every time the Word was being taught. This was happening multiple times per week. It is easy to see that if we are giving constant attention to the teaching of the Word the body is going to become more mature and walking united in the truths of God’s Word.
One reason the body today is not as united is because most believers who do attend church today only do so once a week, and many only a few times a month. Just recently I was talking with one of our church members who referred to another church that was no longer having Sunday night services because people were not coming. They instead voted to have their flag football league games on Sunday afternoon and evenings. A pastor who is obedient to God’s Word does not determine if he is going to have services based on the response of people, but based on the Word of God. We are not to forsake assembling together as is the manner of some, even so much the more as we see the return of the Lord approaching.
A second key to them giving constant attention to the apostle’s teachings is that they went home and studied further what they were being taught, and gathered together sharing these truths with each other as well. Remember to be steadfast in their teachings also means to persevere. They did not give up on the Word. They remained faithful to obey the teachings shared with them, even when they faced opposition and times of trial. This brings great unity.
If you look back to Acts 2:42 you will also find out that they walked in fellowship. The word fellowship means association by participation. They were connected together by what everyone had to offer in helping to do the work of the ministry. The apostle Paul speaks about this in Ephesians 4:16. He tells us that when the whole body begins to take part in doing the work of the ministry, this causes us to become joined and knit together (unity). Every believer should be involved in doing the work of the ministry in their church, and outside of their church. That is biblical fellowship, association by participation.
The next thing we see that brought unity in the church is what scripture calls “breaking of bread”. This is a phrase that we tend to think the word fellowship means. They were devoted to each other as a body, so much so that they met continually in each other’s homes, going house to house, talking about what they had learned from the apostles, and having a meal together.
It was very common that when they had a meal at the end of that meal they took communion together just as Jesus did with His disciples. The word communion means to be “one with”. This was done as a reminder and a commitment that they were one with Jesus, and one together as a body. This is a big missing element in the church today and definitely one of the most powerful aspects of what built unity in the body.
Last but not least they were devoted to praying together. You see this all through the book of Acts. As they would come and pray together they would see God move in and through their lives. Times of intercession brought about great results. This too is unfortunately a great weakness in the body as many churches don’t even have corporate prayer times, or the body of Christ is just to busy to come or uncomfortable trying to spend that time in prayer. There is only one way to develop in prayer, you must pray.
So these are some powerful things that I am believing to see the body of Christ awaken to once again that will bring about great unity. A body that walks in unity will be a powerful force in the earth for Jesus Christ. They will go forth with the Word of God on their lips, and the anointing of God on their lives to change the lives of others.
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May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker