Developing a Christian Mind – part 6: Fellowship
Updated: Feb 6
6. The Christian mind learns in fellowship with other Christians
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
The ultimate purpose of Paul’s teaching about unity among Christians despite differences of opinion over non-essential matters (see part 5 of this series) is that believers should glorify God with unity of mind and heart. This principle teaches us three additional important truths about the Christian mind.
Firstly, unity in the core of the gospel is more important than our individual right to stand for our own principles. We must prioritise the fundamental truths that unite all believers (the gospel) over all secondary issues. The evangelical movement has historically done just this, allowing partnership in the gospel between Christians from different denominations and traditions. In recent years, however, the unity of Evangelicalism has been under severe threat as some sectors have emphasised their distinctive to a level that excludes those who differ from them. Whether differences are within a local congregation or between different traditions, we must prioritise our joint voice about God’s glory and Christ’s uniqueness over our disputes about other matters.
Secondly, it is possible to have a unified Christian mind. This means that we must seek truth together in fellowship with other Christians. It is not enough that we seek truth individually – we must learn from one another. Evangelicals have traditionally placed a great emphasis on individual piety, including daily personal reading of the Bible. This is a good thing, of course, but the New Testament does not expect personal Bible reading to be our primary way of engaging with Scripture. We must place equal, perhaps greater, emphasis on reading and studying the Bible together in Church – being taught by gifted teachers and discussing together in small groups.
Thirdly, this kind of open, learning fellowship is only possible when we think about one another in the way that Christ thought of others. To have the mind of Christ means to have the kind of attitude He demonstrated – humility, selflessness, grace and love. This comes from God Himself and to maintain it we will need endurance and encouragement from Him. We cannot separate our reading and study of Scripture from prayer.
To develop a Christian mind we need to be living, learning and growing in fellowship with other believers in the community of the Church.