The apostle Paul realized the significance of unity for the early church. Remember that Paul wrote his letter to the church in the city of Philippi sometime between 54 AD and the early 60s. The Christian movement was no more than 30 years of age and how it would appear as a new segment of society was in process. In chapter two of his letter to believers in Philippi Paul recounts their achievements and asks them to complete his joy by being unified in spirit around a single purpose.
Paul begins his chapter with a big IF – “Therefore, if you have . . .“ then each of the three following clauses begins with an “if.” The “if” certainly implies something less that perfection in certain areas. The Greek word, however, may be translated “since” and that throws a completely different light on what Paul is saying. (Scholars like to point that the original text is a “first class conditional cause” and assumes the premise to be true.) It is since they belong to Christ that the believers are being encouraged to live differently. Their lifestyle was anything but “politically correct” in a secular society. And that was all right because God was there to encourage and strengthen them as they lived differently than their community.
The word “since” is repeated in the three following clauses. It was since Christ’s love provided the insight, since the Spirit created a warm relationship, and since being in Christ had made their hearts tender and compassionate that Paul could ask them to make his joy complete. And that completeness was to be a unity that affected every part of their communal life. Paul understands the church as a group of believers transformed by the Spirit who work together in perfect unity to carry out the purpose of God here on earth.
There was a time in the life of our nation when the motto E pluribus unum, “Out of many, one,” represented what we as a nation wanted to be and were becoming. Currently it seems to be somewhat the opposite, “Out of one, many.” Diversity has become goal for our nation that once honored unity. Diversity is displacing unity in society as well as in the church. But it runs counter to both scripture and the will of our founders. Paul knew that only by the strength of unity could the church emerge victorious, and Thomas Jefferson and friends knew that the same principle must be in force in order to create a nation that would be genuinely exceptional. A good example of the Judeo-Christian basis of Western democracy.