Summary: In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul gives God's prescription for unity which includes both the motivation and the method for unity.
A. Welcome to Friend Day!
1. If this is your first time with us, then we want to extend a warm welcome to you!
a. We hope you are inspired and encouraged, and will come back again.
2. If this is not your first visit, then we want to welcome you back!
a. It is so good to see you again, and we hope you are inspired and encouraged as well.
B. Look at this Peanuts cartoon with me.
1. One day Linus and Lucy were in a deep conversation and Linus was telling his big sister: “Charile Brown says that brothers and sisters can learn to get along.”
2. Linus continued: “He says they can get along the same way mature adults get along.”
3. Linus continued: “And he says that adults can get along the same way that nations get along.”
4. Then Linus concluded with a look of despair: “At this point the analogy breaks down.”
C. Both history and experience tell us how hard it is for people to get along with each other.
1. Nations have difficulty getting along with each other.
2. States and communities have difficulty getting along with each other.
3. Families and individuals have difficulty getting along with each other.
4. Everyone, in every place, in every time has had difficulty getting along with each other.
D. But doesn’t it feel like things are getting worse rather than better, in this regard?
1. We live in a time when our nation is so fragmented and there is so much conflict and so much harm being done to each other.
2. There is the weekly and almost daily reports of sexual abuse allegations, and incidents of mass murder and terrorism.
3. There is the ongoing divide and animosity between political parties and all kinds of disputes along economic, racial, religious, nationality and gender lines.
4. Collectively, we wonder what can be done to fix all this.
E. For thousands and thousands of years, the answer and fix was wrapped up in knowing God and seeking to put God’s principles into practice – God’s principles of love and justice and value for all people.
1. Until the modern age, our main sources for meaning in life were found in religion and family, and were tightly interrelated and were public matters.
a. In fact, it was not thought good or possible for individuals to find a meaning in life of or on their own.
b. Harvard philosopher Josiah Royce in 1908 wrote a book called The Philosophy of Loyalty, in which he sought to answer the question of why human beings need meaning.
c. He wondered why it wasn’t enough to simply work, eat, sleep, and do the normal activities of daily life.
d. His answer was that human beings could not live without dedication to a cause more important than their individual interests.
e. Royce concluded that humans need a cause for which they are willing to sacrifice greatly.
f. He wrote that we are happy only if we make our meaning in life something greater than our happiness.
g. Royce argued that individualism undermines individual happiness, saying, “We need devotion to something more than ourselves for our lives to be endurable. Without it, we have only our desires to guide us, and they are fleeting, capricious, and insatiable.”
2. But now, for the better part of a century, many of the leaders of our country have been saying that the answer is not found in religion.
a. And so God has become unwelcome in our public consciousness and in our government and schools.
b. Secular Humanism has become the new religion and consciousness for our modern sensibilities.
3. Many people in our day would describe themselves as “liberal humanists” who are committed to science and reason, to progress and the good of humanity, and to the rights, equality, and freedom of every individual human being.
4. Secularity is marked by a call “to take active responsibility for the progressive improvement of the world…to work for the betterment of other humans, even strangers beyond our shores.”
a. And it is argued, that removing the influence of religion in the world will help us realize those values.
b. These values of rights, equality, freedom and betterment of other human beings are wonderful values that we, Christians, embrace.
F. But the question that I would like to raise and the point that I would like to make is: Where did those values come from?
1. Not only can none of these humanistic moral standards be proven empirically, but they don’t follow logically from a materialistic view of the world.
2. This problem and inconsistency seems invisible to many modern secularists.
3. For example, a commenter on a New York Times article about the meaning of life wrote: “When the Hubble space telescope pointed to a black spot in the sky the size of an eraser head for a week it found 30,000 galaxies over 13 billion years old with many trillions of stars and many many more trillions of inferred planets. So, how significant are you?...You are not a unique snowflake, you are not special, you are just another piece of decaying matter on the compost pile of this world. Nothing of who you are and what you will do in the short time you are here will matter. Everything short of that realization is vanity. So celebrate life in every moment, admire its wonders, and love without reservation.”