"Whatever happens, above all else conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel"
No matter what, we are in this together. That is the message Paul is giving us in Philippians. This is the first command he gives and it is also the most important. Above all else, do this. It is a call to unity and to endure together no matter what comes of him, whether he lives or dies in prison. But why is it so important that the church be unified?
In John 17, Jesus Christ prays for all believers to be one just as He and the Father are one in order that the world would know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
It is through our unity that Christ proves his divinity.
It is our unity that shows the world that there exists a God in heaven who loves them.
It is our unity that brings about saving faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
It not only saves others, but it saves us as well.
And so not only our salvation but the salvation of the entire world depends on the church standing firm together.