Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:27–28—NKJV)

Unity is not the natural state of mankind. With American prestige and influence for good on the wane around the world, take a fresh look at the United Nations. A more disjointed, power-hungry, whiny, greedy, envious, corrupt, tyrannically dictatorial, indifferent to real justice, and small-minded collection of mankind can hardly be conceived, unless it were made up solely of despotic, miniature Napoleons. Look at who they chose to lead themselves and who is enriching themselves. It is not about uniting and it is not about nations.

Real unity must be forged through common values, virtues, and allegiance. Ideal unity is the role of a common faith. Faith is one of three ideas in the Bible. It is expressive of the body of belief found in the Bible (doctrine); it is the descriptor of saving faith; and finally it is the life lived by faith. It is essentially who you believe, why you believe and how you believe all wrapped up in Paul’s expression “striving together for the faith of the Gospel.”

What is interesting about the text is that the individual, the one who is born-again, in no way loses his personhood, individuality, or his uniqueness. Rather, the emphasis is on the various individuals making up the Philippian Church owning their individual allegiance to Jesus Christ in such a way that the common purpose of the Gospel of Christ is the joint ambition of each believer. They are each important members of a team reaching for victory. Here are the principles of Christian unity within the local church found in verse 27.

Unity of Identity: The Greek word for conduct is our English word politic. It is a manner of conduct of life as seen as a duty to a body or group to whom the individual is responsible. It is the sum of duties that devolve upon the member of the group. It is like belonging to a family and bearing the family name and characteristics, then ultimately the family success and reputation. Interestingly, the Greek verb is in the middle voice indicating that it is an allegiance to the particular duties incumbent upon the individual willingly embraced.

Philippi was a colonial city of Rome with unique privileges granted them by Rome. Paul’s readers were proud to call themselves Romans and treasured the duties that came along with full Roman citizenship! Nothing could dissuade them from thinking of themselves as Romans first. Similarly, for every genuine believer, no matter what offenses may come, no matter what obstacles may arise, no matter how wearying or how long may be the task, he will always refresh his purpose within to act as a citizen of God’s family and for His Name’s sake. The believer’s personal interests and sensibilities pale in comparison to his identity and duty as a believer.

Unity of Call: The believer’s duty is to be discharged in such a way that it is of full and equal weight to the (worthy) superlative nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His is self-sacrificial and perfectly effective love reaching to the depth of the misery of men, lifting them, giving them the authority to be called the sons of God.

Unity of Standing: The brotherhood of the saints is in view, who stand their ground in the face of the onslaughts of the enemies of the Gospel while not in cowardice or confusion giving an inch. One Spirit empowers (both blending and fusion of the saints to the task) with one mind (soul, that which has to do with emotion, reason, and will) impressed by and impressed upon the needs of the world. The church is to stand our ground with a single spirit and single soul.

Unity of Teamwork: Striving together is from the Greek word from which we get athlete. Each athlete desires to win for the team; this is no place for egos, interpersonal struggles, thin skin, personal options and preferences, showboating or throwing the game. The Coach calls us to strive for the faith of the Gospel.

If believers within each Bible-preaching church would act in one accord as God intends, then the adversaries (verse 28) will gain proof (legal term of proof obtained by appeal to facts) that they are lost and in need of a Savior. Revival might be seen in our day! Are you facilitating the unity of the Gospel in your church? Trust and obey.