Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 5-11 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston. Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.
Devotional Thought for Today
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
In basketball, I, as much as anyone, enjoy seeing highlights of windmill dunks, off balance three point shots with the shot clock running down, and plays where the defender jumps in from out of nowhere to block the shot. It’s in plays like these that the talents and the athleticism of basketball players are highlighted. To me though, the beauty of basketball really shines in teamwork. There is something special about watching five guys on the basketball working in concert, seeing the ball being passed around, players working in unison, screening, cutting, passing; when a player has a good shot but instead passes the ball to his teammate for a great shot.
When we read what Paul says to start this verse, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” our first inclination might be, like the basketball highlights that we see on TV, that we as individuals need to grow in our holiness or gifting. We might think that living for the gospel is a personal project and that we as individuals need to shine for Jesus. However, when Paul talks about living for the gospel in Philippians, his focus is on unity and teamwork. He says that he desires to see the church “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side.” It sounds like a great basketball team that works together in unison.
When the body of Christ works in unison there is a greater power to advance the gospel. When we are a team, we can look after one another, helping one another through trials and setbacks, carrying each others’ burden, while helping one another to stay focused on the mission that Jesus has given us as the church. It’s not that our individual gifting and talents don’t matter, but if the world sees us as individuals laying down our need to shine, and striving and standing firm together for the gospel, they will see the beauty of the body of Christ. Let us seek to live lives worthy of the gospel.
Prayer: Jesus, I pray that I will live a life worthy of the gospel by being a part of the body. Help me to see that advancing the gospel isn’t just about me, but it’s about us as a church, standing firm and striving together for your gospel. May the world see the beauty of your gospel through the church. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 29
Lunch Break Study
Read John 17:20: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Questions to Consider
- How does Jesus pray for those who believe in him?
- What is the purpose of unity according to this passage?
- How can we seek to bring greater unity to the church?
- Jesus prays that everyone who believes in him will be one.
- The purpose of the oneness of the church is stated twice in this passage. Verse 21, “so that they world may believe that you have sent me,” and verse 23, “so that the world may know you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” Jesus is not praying for unity for the sake of unity, but he prays for unity for the sake of the advancement of the gospel.
- The source of unity is not in own ability to find common ground, but it is Jesus Christ in us, our hope of glory. If we are followers of Christ, then it means Christ is in us. And if Christ is in us, Jesus tells us that we are perfectly one as Jesus brings us together. We of course still need intentionally to have unity, but we intentionally seek unity that is already there in Christ.
How are you a part of the teamwork of your church? Or how can you be contributing to the unity of your church in a greater measure? Take some time now to pray and ask God to help people see the beauty of the gospel through your local body of Christ.