Watch the “U”

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”[1] Apostle Paul was faced with division of the Philippi church. A tiny church, meeting in someone’s home, was dividing. Despite our surprise at the situation, this was alarming to Paul. The church in Philippi was his first to be planted in Europe (Philippi, Greece). A lot was resting on this gathering. In those times it was seen that Philippi was the gateway between Europe and Asia,[2] located on an ancient Roman commercial route, Via Egnatia.[3] Get a church to root there; it may help spread the Word on westward. So, where does Paul turn? Paul reminds the church of the example of Jesus.


Jesus is the example. Paul wanted the Philippians to take on the attitude of Christ.[4] If they did, the divisions may dissolve and unity could prevail. Notice that Paul does not emphasize their convictions, their doctrines; I can almost hear Paul admit to let the Philippians hold dear what they may. Paul simply called for a Christ-like attitude from the individual, knowing that unity would then follow. Unity in Christ was the focus.


In business we seek a “metric” to give an indication of a company’s wellness. A metric is an easily measurable observation. For example, such a metric is return on investment (ROI). ROI gives a number to what happens to a dollar when it is invested in the company: the higher the ROI number, the better. For Paul, he may have used a metric of sorts for the church, a somewhat measurable observation called unity (U). For Paul the closer U approached a value of 1 (one, no divisions) the better. At the time of the letter to Philippi their U may have been closer to 2 (two, two groups) or higher, and that’s a problem. Now, if the church could approach U=1, then he knew that the Philippi church was well, with a Christ-like attitude. Pleased, Paul then could turn his attention to other churches, other U’s. All Paul needed to do was to watch the U. Unity indicates wellness for the Christian church.


The last time you felt unwelcome in a gathering of Christians, what might you guess was their U? Was it a U of two or greater? And when you feel comfortable with fellow Christians, might they be closer to U=1? Overall, it is not important that we hold to the same Christian doctrines, but that our Christ-like attitude is shared by all. Realistically, U=1 may be an ideal; nevertheless, our Christian attitude is seen in the U.

[1] Philippians 2:3,4 (NRSV)


[3] Ibid.

[4] The Teacher’s Commentary, “Philippians”

About Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Hodges is an ordained minister, pastoring a church in central Virginia.
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