Unity of Mind
“ Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8 ESVi)
One of the most difficult things in the church today is unity. Part of what makes it so difficult is wether it is built upon the right convictions. Obviously, Peter is not asking us to be at one with those who reject the most basic teachings about the Gospel, the Bible, Jesus, the Trinity, etc.
But, unity with those with whom we agree theologically, can still be a challenge. I find the words of Peter both comforting and challenging.
They are comforting because he acknowledges that, until we see Jesus, we will fail from time to time. I find it challenging because we do have to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us daily with the power to obey. The pursuit of peace is never easy for us.
Look at the words Peter uses:
Unity of mind. Sometimes, sadly, the best we can do to have a unity of mind, is to agree to disagree. This is never God’s ideal. But, it does work to pursue peace with our brethren and, especially, not to damage their reputation among others.
Sympathy. I may not understand the way that you are thinking, it may even exasperate me. But, I cannot allow that feeling to stay long in my mind. I must choose the compassion that God has for me, and allow the Holy Spirit to grow it in me, towards others.
Brotherly love. Love is choice. Love is serving the other. Love is thinking the best about the other no matter how I feel. Love is giving the other the benefit of doubt. Love is being willing to lose my “rights” in relationship with others. This kind of love can only be built in us by the Holy Spirit when we allow Him to take control of our emotions. (1 Corinthians 13)
A tender heart. This may be the most difficult of the challenges from Peter, to show tenderness when someone is attacking you. A tender heart does not respond in kind, in the way in which others may treat me. Tenderness is measuring my words, seeking understanding, asking forgiveness even when it is not asked, or maybe even required.
Humble mind. Jesus is the model of this humility. “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,” (Philippians 2:6-7)
Servants do not get their way. Servants sometimes have to do what others ask them to do, even when they don’t want to or “think” that they ought to. Servants look to please their master, our Master, Jesus, by serving others.
Our Master puts more emphasis on how we treat others than wether we are “right,” or important or great, or effective. Let this mind be in you, says Paul in the Philippians passage above. It is not our natural way of thinking about ourselves. But, it is God’s desire for us, His children
Unity with brothers is a challenge. All of us need to allow God to work this “fruit” from the Spirit in us, every day. I pray for the peace of God to reign in the midst of the leadership of God’s Church. May I never be the seed of division!!