Chapter 2 of philippians helps me see I need the Holy Spirit….There are many times when I have tried to make a relationship work and have tried hard to fix an offence but have not invited the Holy Spirit to do the work and go ahead of me. I have not sought his wisdom and his counsel and have used my own interpretation of details and perceptions. The Holy Spirit brings supernatural to seeming impossible impasses. Letting the Holy Spirit lead me and counsel me means that I have a heavenly perspective and am able to gain insight and wisdom that I do not have. He expects me be humble and selfless. That without the help of the Holy Spirit is nigh impossible.
As a nurturer, according to Philippians, it is not enough to just encourage others in their walk with God, helping them experience God’s love, his presence, his power, his strength, his enabling, his goodness, his mercy, his forgiveness, his greatness, his majesty his glory. It also means helping people work through their own agendas and identifying why their relationships are not working. The Holy Spirit gives me wisdom and discernment in helping my groups and my leaders create unity and maintain a unity.
Another way the Holy Spirit leads me is in recognising the hints of division and discerning the process of discontent. Everyone of us face days where discouragement or discord impact on our lives. When someone complains, the Holy Spirit helps me hear it and recognise it so I can help deal with it. I am learning to listen for discontent, frustration, complaints and undercurrents of strife, not to be suspicious but to help build up broken walls, mend fences, build lives, and create an environment for lives to experience the grace and power of God. The Holy Spirit helps me hear gossip or criticism and in turn pray though it and if lead to, to confront it in a way that will bring unity and not division. The Holy Spirit helps give me wisdom in addressing it so that the church family is a community that truly is heaven on earth.
It would mean blatant disobedience to refuse to walk in agreement with the Holy Spirit AND not with those in my church community. I am not actually talking about loving and resolving conflicts with those outside our church community because Paul is writing a corporate letter not a personal one. Hills Church is my corporate context. Paul is using the church as the context where this message must be out worked for the sake of the kingdom of God. There is so much truth here for my family, for my marriage and for me personally but what about for our church.
The church over hundreds of years has been painted and viewed in many perspectives. It has been painted as something evil, abusive, authoritarian and sick, lazy, controlling, irrelevant… and in many ways leaders and church culture have given us every reason to be cynical and critical. This letter from Paul is an encouragement to me to create a different picture of the church in the heart of believers and in the hearts of those who are connected with out people. So many people who come to Hills to check us out have a past where they have been hurt by the church or people in the church and yet the church is still what God chooses to use. I love the church and have a responsibility to help give the church a reputation that better reflects what Jesus had in mind. If I approach my view of the church through cynicism and my past hurts then I will never see the church as Jesus intended.
There are so many different ways of doing church and community and we certainly don’t pretend to have the perfect way. We will, however, stand before God for what we did with this local expression and we have a responsibility to give those who are watching and those who are a part of it a view that comes as close to the kingdom of a God as we can. No wonder Jesus prayed so fervently for us.
The Holy Spirit does not pull me away from people and community but helps me find common vision, common ground and confidence in relating with others. He is convicting, not condemning in his leading. He uses his word, and others to draw me into right relationship and makes the process simple and powerful.
Jesus loves the church but we often don’t. We are so quick to pull it apart and question and criticise and justify why we can. What ever filter we use to look at the church, it is distorted if we do not love the church. Our kids know what we think of the church more than we do because they listen and observe how we talk about Hills and the people in it. They watch how we deal with it’s people and well orbit so well we respond them. I ask my kids often what they think I think about Hills. Their honesty is a mirror reflecting my reality not my wishful thinking.
Paul loves the church and he wants us to do the same. God has entrusted us with an amazing group of people and need his help to give people a taste of heaven through what he has given us. Paul teach me how to use what I gain from being united with Christ to love the body of Christ.
If Jesus is passionate about his church, we find ourselves just as passionate when we see his church as he sees his church.
If we refuse to resolve our differences and be of one mind we are denying the Holy spirit his power to work in us!
Discord is destructive to unity.
Selfishness is destructive to unity.
Self interest is destructive to unity.
Pride is destructive to unity.
Paul writes with passion … If you think you are one with the Holy Spirit think again if you are not working at unity in this local expression of the body of Christ. He keeps going, passionately honing in on my call to be ONE…until it feels like a hammer on my heart. He keeps honing in on this word unity, one, together, accord, not unlike his message in 1 Corinthians 13….
So blessed by the constant reference to Christ in this chapter…the wonder of him being central to my life and the fruit flowing in my relationships. When ever it gets hard it gets simple. Look to Jesus!!! let him set the standard and be the standard. Be empowered and lead by him. Let long term friendship guide my heart because true and loving friends lay down their lives…that is what my truest friend has done for me. That friend is Jesus.