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One-Souled Relationships

Yesterday’s post gave us the key to “esteeming others as better.” Today, let’s look again at Philippians 2 and find an unusual word there as we consider what kind of relationships we can have within our church bodies.

Have you ever witnessed a church fight?

Not a pretty sight. At all.

Apparently some women in the church at Philippi were having a bit of a feud (Philippians 4:2-3), which always has a negative effect on a church’s witness. When Paul penned this letter, he probably had these women in mind.

Much of the New Testament was specifically written to local churches. I’ve heard people refer to Scripture as “God’s love letter to me!” Thankfully it is a personal Word from God, but we also need to remember that often what we’re reading was read publicly to an actual first-century church.

(Let me interrupt this post a bit to provide you with some questions to help you as you study His Word.)

Questions like these help us investigate Scripture in its context:

• What is the background and setting of the book?
• Who were the recipients?
• What was taking place historically or culturally?
• Who is the author?
• Does it contain any theological themes?

Philippians was written to the church in Philippi during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, so read it from that perspective. Paul founded this church (the first one in Europe) during his second missionary journey. The Philippian church probably met in Lydia’s home (find her testimony in Acts 16:13-15). The “feuding women” may have been some of the church’s original organizers.

Now we come to the unusual word I mentioned earlier:

“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:2, emphasis added).

“United in spirit” literally means “one-souled.” Because of the unity that comes from abiding in Christ, believers are the only people in the world who can experience one-souled relationships. God wants this to typify every relationship within the body of Christ:

Husband with wife.

Employee with employer.

Friend with friend.

Unbelievers will be dramatically impacted as they see Christians united as one with the:

• Same mind – exalting Christ
• Same passion – bringing God glory
• Same purpose – presenting His excellence to the world

Church conflicts are serious stuff. This particular conflict rose to such a level that it needed to be publicly addressed. These women probably never dreamed we’d still be reading about their squabble 2,000 years later!

Evaluate your relationships with fellow-believers today. Are they one-souled? What do you think is the greatest hindrance to one-souled relationships?

How has disunity affected the church’s witness to the world?