“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy”
In verses 1-4 of chapter 2, Paul continued his call to harmony, but now the emphasis shifts to fellowship; 2:1 deals with motivation for unity.
There is a huge difference between union and unity. Two people get married—that is union but not necessarily unity! Two churches can merge, but that may not be unity either. That is union, not necessarily unity. If we tie two cats by the tail and throw them over a clothesline, that is union but not unity. Unity has to do with healthy relationships, not structure. A mechanical union is phantom, a counterfeit for the unity of the heart.
The word “if” occurs four times in verse 1. Each “if” deals with a motivation for unity. In each “if” is an entitlement every believer possesses at the point of salvation. Paul appealed to unity based on four fringe benefits every Christian enjoys at salvation.
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ”
The “therefore” harks back to 1:27:
“that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
The four “if “s in verse 1 all mean “since.” They are statements of fact. All four grounds of appeal base their challenges on some fact that is true of the Christian. The argument rests on our divine provisions.
The first appeal to divine certainty is to our “consolation in Christ.” There is encouragement in our union with Christ. This is positional truth. When God looks down on us, He sees us “in Christ.” We hold the same status quo as Jesus Christ, in God’s eyes. Jesus Christ had eternal life; therefore, we have eternal life. Jesus Christ had perfect righteousness; therefore, we have perfect righteousness. This is judicial or forensic righteousness. It is true of us, regardless of our experience. There is consolation, motivation, and encouragement in that!
Unity is a by-product of our oneness with Christ. If our status quo in Christ does not appeal to us, there may be no life in Christ at all. There may be no genuine contact with Christ at all. Or, a believer may be so spiritually dead that he does not respond to what Christ has done for him or her.
The believer has a status quo before God that is equivalent to that of Jesus Christ.
There is comfort and motivation in that we have status quo with God because of Christ. Do you live out your Christian life based on the provisions Christ has made for you? Or do you live your Christian life to gain the approbation or favor of God?