Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 15 No. 11 November 2013
Page 14

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

The Unity of Lights

Bonnie Rushmore

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:12-15 NKJV)

Bonnie RushmorePaul began Chapter Two admonishing the Philippian brethren to be united. This unity is obtained by each Christian humbly submitting himself to his fellow Christian. Paul went on to explain that if Jesus Christ could humble Himself to leave the glory of heaven and come to the earth as a servant, surely we can humble ourselves to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our salvation is dependent upon obeying the commands of God. In the overall context, our entrance into heaven, in part, will be determined with how we treat other Christians (v. 12). We are commanded to not only obey God’s commands but to do so with the proper attitude (v. 14). If we obey God simply because we have to, we have failed. We must obey because we love Him and He is first in our lives. When we submit our attitudes and behaviors to God’s will, we can then be the bright and shining light to a world lost in sin.

The Greek word “lights” in this passage is only used twice in the New Testament. The definition is “an illuminator, i.e. (concretely) a luminary, or (abstractly) brilliancy” (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary). One definition of the word “luminary” is, “an inspiration to others” (Dictionary.com). God is both the source of light and the illumination of that light (1 John 1:5-7). Paul instructed the Philippian brethren to illuminate the light of Christ. Christians should live their lives so that they are an inspiration to others. The Gospel Advocate Commentary made the following observation about this passage.

More people have no other conception of Christianity than that they actually see in the lives and doings of professed Christians. They do not go to Jesus Christ, and look at the truth as he speaks it out and lives it out; they do not yield up their minds and hearts to his teaching and come under his guidance, and let him take them forward into the knowledge and fellowship of “the law of the Spirit of life,” as revealed in the scriptures, but they watch Christians, and draw their inferences and reach their conclusions from the type of character which they illustrate-“they are the Bible the world reads and studies." (emphasis BSR)

The apostle Paul, by inspiration, spoke to other congregations about unity. First Corinthians Chapter One deals with division within the Corinthian church. Verse 10 states, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). The balance of the chapter compares the foolishness of the world to the wisdom of God. Division is foolishness and worldliness, while unity denotes wisdom and godliness.

To the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:1-6). Notice that in this passage Paul begged Christians to behave in such a way to bring honor to the church with an emphasis on being united and being patient with one another because of their love for each other as Christians.

These three passages clearly show that when we have division within the body of Christ our light to the world is dimmed or completely blocked out. The inspired writers of the Bible knew that people tend to have the MMI Syndrome – Me, Myself and I. We think our ideas are better than anyone else’s thoughts. We believe our desires are more important than other people’s needs. We are number one and everyone else is second to us. Thus, we have fussing and divided congregations of the Lord’s church. It is through humility and love of the brethren that we overcome the MMI syndrome and become congregations who exhibit love and concern for one another. We cannot be bright and shining lights leading lost souls to the only source of light when we are fussing and fighting with each other. Who wants to be a part of a group of people who continually berate one another? The family of God needs to be a place of peace and rest, not one of contention!

The overall context of Philippians Chapter Two deals with our relationship with one another and the unity we have in Christ. While other passages discuss our individual responsibilities to let our light shine, Philippians 2:15 discusses the need for the united effort of Christians letting their lights shine. Christians working together to spread the Gospel to a world covered in the darkness of sin.

Christians working together to illuminate the world can be compared to a constellation in the sky that can direct one upon the earth. As one looks at the constellations in the sky, it takes several lights to create that constellation. When one light fades, the constellation is no longer visible and is unable to adequately give directions. When Christians fail to be active in good works, fuss and fight among themselves, or participate in sinful activities, their lights become dim. As a Christian’s light dims, the unity of the Body – the Lord’s Church – is no longer a bright and shiny light leading the lost to Christ.

We shine our light by:

Some of the items in this list are targeting those who are already Christians, and some are focusing on non-Christians. When we show acts of kindness and benevolence to our brothers and sisters in Christ, their non-Christian friends and family members take notice.

As Christians, we must let our lights shine individually and collectively. Individually, our light shines in a small area around us. Collectively, our lights illuminate a larger area. When we work with sisters from other congregations, we can radiate to an even larger area of the world. Some of the items in the above list provide opportunities for sisters from area congregations to work together to accomplish a common goal. Let each of us be that bright and shining light in a world covered in the darkness of sin. Let us unite, working together, to brighten the world with the Light of the Lord. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Let us put our insecurities behind us, press on with the strength of Christ and be the Light Jesus wants us to be!

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