Question: "How can believers be of one mind (1 Peter 3:8)?"
Answer: In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter exhorts believers to “be of one mind” (NKJV). This unity is important because all Christians are on the same team, especially those in a local body. A team falls apart and loses its aim when it is not of one mind. When we treat believers as Christ has called us to, we can be of one mind in what we believe and in our actions to glorify God.
To be of one mind is to be like-minded or united in intent and purpose. In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:22–23). The purpose of Christian unity is that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (verses 21, 23).
Romans 15:5–6 gives another reason why being of one mind is important: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV). All believers are called to be of one mind so they can glorify God in unison and accurately reflect Jesus to the world and extend His offer of salvation (2 Corinthians 5:20).
When we are saved, we are united with Christ and become part of the family of God (1 John 3:1). When a family is of one mind, they can love each other well, and others take notice. Believers are also described as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–27; Ephesians 5:30). Different parts of the body cannot work in rebellion to the other parts. The body works as a synergistic whole. We need to live out the truth that we are one body and one family in Christ.
The way we treat each other impacts our unity. Peter continues the exhortation to be of one mind by calling believers to have “compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing” (1 Peter 3:8–9). What we believe affects how we live. If we believe we are united in Christ, then we will be of one mind.
Selfish actions and haughty thoughts cause disunity. Paul counters such sins in Philippians 2:1–3: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Our union to Christ reminds us that we are all sinners saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. Salvation leads us to being “completely humble and gentle” and being “patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Being of one mind involves treating each other with love and selflessness.
Being of one mind does not mean pursuing unity simply for the sake of unity. We are united in Christ, and teachings that deny Christ must be excluded. Thus, we are of one mind in the essentials of the faith. We are to separate from those who teach false doctrine (Matthew 7:15; Romans 16:17; Revelation 2:14–15), and we are not to unite with people who claim to be Christians yet who live in continued, unrepentant sin (Matthew 18:15–17; 1 Corinthians 5:1–2). Being of one mind also does not mean that all differences between churches and denominations need to be abolished. We can hold distinct biblical convictions while still upholding unity and loving our other brothers and sisters in Christ who hold different convictions. Ultimately, it is Christ who unites us, and His Word and Spirit must convict us of where we are not representing Him well.
It takes work for a team to be of one mind, and each person who is part of it must work with his or her teammates to accomplish the team’s aim. Believers are called to be one body and one family in Christ. Our unity in Christ will transform how we treat each other and help us in our mission to glorify God and reflect Him to the world around us.