Christian unity must start in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone. Too many today within Christ’s church are looking for unity with other believers that is found in our agreement on issues of personal preference. Paul the Apostle, reminds us in Philippians 3:1 that Christian unity within the church starts and ends with God’s children being unified around Christ and His gospel exclusively.
Paul says in Philippians 3:1, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.”
Now when Paul says, look at the end of verse one again, "To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you." What he means here, is that the content of chapters 1 & 2 of Philippians, is a 'safeguard' for the church.
And the contents of chapters 1 & 2 are about finding local church unity in Christ and His gospel. We see this most clearly, but not exclusively, in a few verses such as...
1 Philippians 1:27 (NASB): Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
2 Philippians 2:2 (NASB): make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Christians are to be “striving together for the faith of the gospel”. They are not called to strive together for the success of para-church organizations, political policy, styles of worship, etc., but instead for “one purpose”. The faith of the gospel. Our unity, our “standing firm in one spirit with one mind”, is to be grounded in Jesus and His gospel.
This means that I am free to have personal preferences that differ with my brothers and sisters in Christ regarding things such as educational choices for my kids, political opinions, and worship style preferences, etc... without creating division and schisms inside Christ’s church.
When the gospel is the glue that binds, Paul says it serves as a “safeguard” for the church. Safeguard is from the Greek ἀσφαλής : which carries the idea of being "free from danger"—hence a safeguard from danger.
τὰ αὐτὰ γράφειν ὑμῖν ἐμοὶ μὲν οὐκ ὀκνηρόν, ὑμῖν δὲ ἀσφαλές ‘to write these things to you is not burdensome to me, but it is a matter of safety for you’ Php 3:1.
[Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 238). New York: United Bible Societies.]
This is why it's critically important that each believer understand what Paul has written, so important, that if Paul had to literally write the same things to them again, so that they would comprehend it's truth, that would be NO TROUBLE to him. He would gladly do that to help protect Christ’s church from error and division.
Unity within the body of Christ centered around the gospel and person of Christ is everything! Understanding and obeying the truths from Paul in these chapters is for us a SAFEGUARD.
A matter of safety for the UNITY within Christ's church.
Our challenge here is to let lesser matters of personal preference take a secondary place of importance within the church. To stop judging one another on the lesser matters of importance and to start standing firm together around the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ! To allow Christ and the gospel to be our vision and our basis for perpetual unity within HIs church.
Stand firm friends!