Learning from the Roman military… Unity matters in advancing the Gospel!

Unity in purpose, agreement is mission and dedication to a common cause are powerful things! They usually determine the success or failure of any enterprise. They are especially significant in establishing the Kingdom of God and the advancement of the Gospel in our world!

This morning during “coffee with the Lord” I read one of Apostle Paul’s challenges in this regard. It is one of several passages in His letters where he borrows military imagery to make his point. In Philippians 1:27-30 he draws upon a scene that his readers in Philippi would immediately relate to… The Roman military formation that vanquished all its enemies and led to Roman domination of the then known world… the “century” … it consisted of 10 fully armored and armed soldiers across and 10 deep, marching in lock step and cadence, into battle against an enemy. It was the kind of military machine that struck fear into Rome’s enemies and brought incredible victory to the Roman Empire! What a scene it must have created, what an awesome sound and effect multiple units like this must have created! Incredible victories were won with this military strategy, opposing armies fled, and white flags were raised in fear and surrender everywhere!

Here are commander Paul’s words to a congregation of believers struggling with discontent and disunity, seeking the advancement of the Gospel in a pagan stronghold…

“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, not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” (from Philippians 1:27–30 ESV)

Unity in purpose, mission, and common cause is critical to the success of the Gospel in any congregation and community! The cause of Christ suffers locally and worldwide when we spend more time bickering with one another rather than engaging the “enemy” with the truth of the gospel and spiritual weapons that “have divine power to destroy strongholds and destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6).

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s high time we listened to the intense prayer of Jesus in John 17 as he prayed for unity among His followers and took Apostle Paul’s challenge in Philippians 1:27-30 to heart. The Kingdom of God and the advancement of the Gospel in our communities and around the world depend on it!

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