“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:1-8).
Today’s church thinks fellowship is having dances, entertainment and partying, but the early church knew what it was all about. They were in one accord with everything to do with the Gospel. They prayed in faith and got results, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14). They called sinners to repentance, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). They were faithful to the revealed word of God, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They experience growth, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). These verses reveal that there is something amiss in our churches today. So what are the ingredients that make up a harmonious church?
Absence of strife and vainglory
Most churches destroy themselves from within. They may blame it on an attack of the devil, but in fact it is the bickering and backbiting of its members that is the problem. This is a direct result of ungodliness in the church, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3). This is a church that is operating according to the flesh rather than the Spirit of God, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Where there is strife and vainglory Satan is guiding the church to failure, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14-16).
We are called to serve the Lord and to honour Him both as individuals and as a church. Far too often we find that the servant glorified rather than the Master. God cannot bless a church where He is not glorified both in word and deed, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
Absence of self-esteem
The self-esteem gospel has been one of the leading causes of ungodliness in the church. It calls for believers to lift themselves up, whereas Scripture demands that we humble ourselves. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24) … “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). This humility means that we honour others rather than ourselves.
Esteeming others is a sign of genuine Christian love in the church. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). One of the pillars, the strongest of the all, is love. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Therefore the church cannot function without it.
“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
These verses reveal something of what Paul means by the mind of Christ. It is humility instead of hate; giving instead of greed; and sacrifice instead of selfishness. Without true harmony the church can never know what fellowship is and neither will it ever be blessed by God.