Encouragement and Unity in Christ
God graciously gives us both His Word and fellowship with other Christians.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others’” (Phil. 2:1–4).
“If” there is any encouragement in Christ? Of course, there is! Then, says St. Paul, what follows is God’s intended result: from loving and being loved, profound comfort; from the Holy Spirit, genuine fellowship; and finally, from Christians, compassion toward fellow Christians.
What you need, God graciously gives — first in the pure Word of Christ, for everything depends on that. Then come your brothers and sisters in the faith, that you might receive comfort, connection and mercy. The journey ahead is demanding. Let not your heart be anxious. In the face of opposition — even persecution — for your steadfast confession, you will endure hurt and disappointment. You need the admonition of your fellow saints to remain firm, and this is found in the unity that is within Christ. You will suffer injuries that arise from sin — both your own and the sins of others — and yet you will see the transcendent, purposeful love that appears in confession, forgiveness and reconciliation among fellow Christians.
Saints strive together in mindful watchfulness toward the day of Christ’s return. This fellowship’s true source is only of the Holy Spirit, working through visible, touchable, hearable means. Acts of love flow forth from the Spirit’s labors. This is genuine fellowship, standing on the compassion of Christ Himself — the sacrificial Lamb of God, whose shed blood embodies what it means to look selflessly to the interests of others.
In His hands,
Rev. Kevin D. Robson
Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod