Christian Living

Not Much in Common

Steve Coble

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2

Paul’s experience with the city of Philippi is no mystery to us. We find an account of his interaction there in Acts 16. It centers around three characters – the seller of purple (Lydia), the demented slave girl, and the jailer. It is a remarkable cross-section of life in the ancient world. Lydia was from Asia. The slave girl was a native Greek. The jailer was a Roman citizen.

Not only were they different ethnicities, they came from very different levels in society. Lydia dealt with one of the most costly substances in the ancient world. The other girl was a slave. And the jailer was a Roman citizen and member of the sturdy Roman middle class. They had ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic differences, yet they all could be represented in one church.[1] Furthermore, each of these people are sinners that Paul tells to be united.

In verse one, Paul says, “If there is any encouragement in Christ.” These “if” clauses are what you would call first-class conditions in Greek. It speaks of certainties. So they could just as easily be translated “since.”[2]  Paul is saying since all this is true, be united.

Being in Christ means the entirety of our salvation. Regeneration – we were spiritually dead and the Holy Spirit made us spiritually alive. Justification ­– we’ve been declared righteous by God. Redemption – the penalty for your sin has been paid. Adoption – you’ve been brought into the family of God. Glorification – you’ll live forever without sin in glorified bodies. Paul says since this (and all the other benefits of the gospel of Jesus Christ) is true of you, be united.

Paul is speaking to a church of potentially high class Greeks, middle class Romans, and poverty stricken slaves and says: since you have all these things in common, and the gospel has reconciled you back to God as Ephesians 2:1-11 would teach us, be united.

The gospel breaks down the dividing wall of hostility and reconciles us to one another. The question then becomes what allows a group of people who have been reconciled back to God, reconcile to each other? The answer to that question is building genuine relationships and the gospel is the impetus behind this kind of intentionality.

Genuine relationships allow us to understand each other. Sometimes hard conversations have to happen that are uncomfortable, but Jesus didn’t die for you to be comfortable.  We as Christ followers now display the kingdom of heaven here on earth through love and reconciliation.

Bringing it close to home, what do your dinner tables look like? What do your lunch breaks look like? Does everybody look like you? Think like you? Vote like you? In your practice of Christianity, make sure your relationships look like the Kingdom of Heaven.


Barclay, William. The daily study Bible series. The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians Rev. ed. Louisville: Westminster, 1975. Pg. 5-6.

[2] MacArthur, John. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press, 2001. Pg. 103.

1 Comment

  1. george canady

    After 400 years of American Christianity,does all the members of your elder board still look like you?

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