Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Philippians 3:15–17—NKJV)

Our national motto on the Great Seal is “e pluribus unum,” meaning “out of many one.” It stands for the fact that from the many separate colonies there had come one nation. It has also been used to illustrate a unique concept of American exceptionalism. Grade school students used to be taught that our country was a great melting pot of people from foreign lands coming to these shores, after completely leaving their past life behind, with a common yearning in the heart for freedom and opportunity. They shared a courageous spirit to hazard everything for the possibility of a better life. Immigrants were “huddled masses yearning to be free” that left their old world behind and willingly united with a new culture, a new constitution, and a new language. They struggled to turn their dream to reality by taking a completely different road. Success was found only if they did not turn back.

Christian unity is not unlike the quality of the commitment that an émigré needed to unconditionally embrace. Paul uses similar terminology in the third chapter of Philippians as he continues to build on his theme concerning the servant-leadership of Christ and the “same-mindedness” which all of His followers must possess. To be of the same mind means to keep on thinking the same thing together.

The original example of the servant-leader’s mind is the Lord Himself. Philippians 2:1–11 beautifully portrays the “mind” that Paul is calling all believers to emulate. Jesus Christ humbled Himself to become a servant and then humbled Himself to submit to His sacrificial, ignominious death. It is this example that Paul duplicates within himself and that he describes for us in 3:1–7, interprets for us in 3:8–9, and explains for us in 3:10–11.

Even the casual reader, upon rereading these verses, cannot help but recognize the enormous dimensions of the stout, pioneering heart of the apostle who bravely leaves his old world behind and irrevocably presses ahead desiring all like-minded Christians to follow along with him in the Savior’s footsteps. His words ring true in the heart of every authentic believer who is in pursuit of Christian “exceptionalism.” E pluribus unum, out of many one!

It must be noted that Christian unity is not a “destination.” If you make it a destination, then you have violated the call of every believer to sanctification. Unity is, however, a by-product of the way of sanctification. Being set apart—sanctification—means that a believer is set apart from sin and unto the Lord. In the High Priestly Prayer of our Lord, found in John 17:17–23, our Savior extols unity that is a by-product of being set apart by the truth found in Scripture. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1 Paul warns believers to beware of being unequally yoked together with anything that compromises your holiness. Every blood-bought saint of God yearns to follow his Master, pursuing holiness in the fear of God (Hebrews 12:14).

In Philippians 3:12–14, Paul illustrates the spiritual migrant’s heart. He has one purpose in mind, one goal to which he is bending every effort and lending all his strength. He speaks with the courage of one who is leaving all behind for the will and approbation of his Master, “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Such resolution will follow the course out to the end, come what may! Nothing will deter, defeat, diminish or distract him. Nothing, and no one!

In verses 15–16, Paul speaks to all his fellow-travelers who have “attained” (to progress along a road to a certain point?—?“so far as we have come”) to keep on “walking” (proceed in a row along the same path—“to keep your lives on the same path”). A believer must strive for maturity and act his spiritual age. As verse 17 points out, the purpose of mature spiritual behavior along the believer’s path of life is so that other believers, with a similar stalwart heart, may take note of your maturity and walk alongside you on the path of life. Spiritual “e pluribus unum” will work smoothly when God’s truth and approbation are the highest ideals held in common and Christ’s servant-leadership heart is duplicated within you. Seek out believers who are more mature than you and emulate their spiritual maturity, while striving to be a mature example to others who follow along in your steps after you. Trust and obey.