“Only 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, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.”
The word translated “striving side-by-side” is the Greek sunathleo, from which we get our English word “athletics.” Paul pictures the kingdom community as an athletic team, and he reminds the Philippians that it is unity and teamwork that wins victories.
Romans 12 provides further commentary on the church as a community of people called to collaborate:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12.3)
Unity, collaboration, teamwork, alignment … they all require humble self-awareness and self-assessment. Paul admonishes us to think about ourselves “with sober judgment.” In other words, don’t have an inflated or exaggerated view of yourself. Don’t be blinded or inebriated by your ego!
We are called to serve, not to be served. We are called to contribute and collaborate, not control. God has given you gifts, and you are to use your gifts in ministry to others.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:4-8)
The Christian community is not about one person. It’s not about the superstar preacher in the pulpit. I often wonder if the modern church has made a significant mistake in making the Sunday service and the preaching of the pastor the primary focus. I fear that many churches have become little more than professional preaching centers financed by lay spectators.
Evaluate yourself with sober judgment. Discover your gift and exercise it for the benefit of others. Cultivate a servant’s heart. Connect and collaborate.
As the body of Christ, may we grow deeper and grow together as we seek to live as authentic Christians in the midst of a watching world.
The Lord is calling.