The Greater Focus for Striving Together
“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
One cry we hear from many is, “Can’t we all just get along?” This sounds wonderful, but getting along with every church is not the command of the Scriptures. The verse above is an address to a local church. When Paul says that they were to strive together, he was talking to a local church of believers that needed to understand what their focus needed to be on. Paul understood that when you strive for something, there are going to be conflicts, but when what you are striving for is bigger than your conflict, you can find within yourself to lay aside your conflicts for the greater cause.
The greater cause that the local church is to focus on is the “faith of the gospel.” Spreading the Gospel is what we are to focus on, and though we may have differences, we can strive together if we stay focused on the Gospel. When we get our focus off the Gospel, strife and divisions will happen in the church. When the whole church is focused on getting the Gospel to the lost, the whole church will have the ability to strive together despite personal differences.
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The word “striving” shows that there will be differences between people. Striving means to contend, struggle, labor, endeavor, battle, or attempt. People are going to be passionate when they do these things. You can't struggle without being passionate. You can't battle without being consumed in what you are doing. Emotions get involved when the local church is struggling, battling, or contending for the Gospel, but if we stay focused on the greater cause of the Gospel, but we can still strive together.
The one thing every believer must be careful of is that they don't switch their focus to a fellow believer while they are striving. In the heat of striving, it is easy to battle against those around us when we have disagreements, but the way to keep those disagreements from causing division is to stay focused on the Gospel. Satan will try to cause friction between fellow believers so that we become divided over what caused the friction instead of staying focused on the Gospel. When you are striving with fellow believers for the Gospel, you are going to bump into each other, but you cannot let that which could cause friction between you and a fellow believer to become a source of contention.
My friend, the greatest cause for the local church is the spreading of the Gospel; therefore, we must strive together to spread the Gospel. Nothing can stop the spreading of the Gospel when the local church stays focused on striving together to get the Gospel to the lost world. You will find that your differences with others will not matter when you are focused on the Gospel.
Moreover, you must realize that Satan understands what can happen when a church is focused on striving together for the Gospel, so he will offer alternatives that seem like a good cause to strive together. We must remember that there is no good cause that should pull the local church away from striving together for the spreading of the Gospel. Striving together for politics, community involvement, and social programs is not what the church is commanded to do. The church is to stay focused on getting the Gospel to the lost, and that is the only focus for which we should strive together.