Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi encouraged them to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27) Striving is an energetic word and can be either good or bad depending on how we strive and for what. Paul in this passage teaches us two important things about Christian striving.
First, we are to be striving “together.” There is a world of difference between striving against each other and in striving together. We have all seen a skilled basketball team working together to move the ball down the court and score – five players working together as a unit. We have also seen how kids sometimes play. Everyone wants the ball for himself, dribbles as long as possible, takes the shot even though a teammate is in better position. They are all striving – playing hard – but not together. In the church we are to strive together as a team.
Second, we are to strive together “for the faith of the gospel.” What we strive for is of utmost importance. It must not be for our own personal opinions or favorite programs but rather for “the faith of the gospel.”
Here at the North Main Street Church of Christ let each of us always make sure that as a team we are all “striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Modern Christianity is a divided Christianity. There are in this country several hundred rival religious groups. Each has its own denominational name. Each has a different creed or book of church order. Each has its own separate organization. Yet all claim Christ as their King.
Jesus wanted his followers to be united. In praying to His Father He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20,21)
How can we in the twenty-first century achieve the unity Christ desired? (1) We must discard all denominational names which divide men religiously, (See 1 Corinthians 1:12,13) and unite under the name of Christ. (See Acts 11:26; Romans 16:16). (2) We must abandon all ecclesiastical authority (popes, councils, synods, presbyteries, conferences, assemblies and associations) and accept only the authority of Jesus Christ. (3) We must discard all man-made creeds and books of church order and accept Christ as our only creed and the New Testament as the sufficient book of discipline for the church. Unity in Christ is not to be achieved on the basis of documents written and approved by men, but on the Bible and the Bible alone.