Summary: Sermon provides a look at the spiritual discipline of celebration!
A CALL TO CELEBRATE
In Celebration of Discipline, an excellent resource for those of you who are looking to pursue further any of the spiritual disciplines we have looked at over the past two months, Richard Foster writes, “Celebration is at the heart of the way of Christ. He entered the world on a high note of jubilation: ‘I bring you good news of a great joy,’ cried the angel, ‘which shall come to all the people.’ He left the world bequeathing his joy to the disciples: ‘These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.’
He goes on to write, “The carefree spirit of joyous festivity is absent in contemporary society. Apathy, even melancholy, dominates the times. Harvey Cox says that modern man has been pressed ‘so hard toward useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration.”
Let me ask you, when was the last time you just cut loose in all out, lung emptying, laughter laced, joyous celebration?
(My example of watching Phil Mickelson winning The Masters).
What about you. When was the last time you just let loose, and celebrated? And then take that question to the next level, when was the last time that happened related to a spiritual issue? For some of us, it was this past Sunday night, when we gathered with our friends at First Wesleyan, and baptized 9 people. We had people being baptized as young as Allie, all the way up to a senior woman who had spent years on the fringe of her walk with God, and had just recently accepted Christ as her savior. That was a joyous event!
Now you may not think of celebration as a spiritual discipline. But it is. In fact, it is possibly the most important of all the spiritual disciplines. For it is the spice of the Christian life. It is what keeps all of the other disciplines from become dull, drudgeries, and obligations rather than desires and things you want to do. It is in the spirit of joy and celebration that all of the other disciplines we have talked about enhance our lives.
Look at what is says in Galatians 5:22 (read through verse 23). I have heard all kinds of messages in my life on faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I have even been admonished about my lack there of. But there are not near enough sermons out there about living a life of joy. Celebration. Living a Christian life that is a happy life.
How do we live that kind of a life, and what would motivate us to live in such a celebratory manner?
Turn to Philippians chapter 4. A passage I’m sure many of you have heard many times. Philippians 4:4 (read verse 4). Okay, so there it is again, “Rejoice. Celebrate. Let’s see some joy.” But how do we do that? Verse 5 (read through verse 8).
Let me give you what I think we have in this passage, and can list out as THREE CLUES TO LIVING A LIFE OF CELEBRATION. First. . .
I. Get Along with Others
(Read verse 5). Gentleness. Other words used there are graciousness, or forbearance. The Greek word used there is similar to that in I Timothy 3 where it is describing what a bishop should or shouldn’t be, and it says he should be “gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous.” And what that word means may be best understood by looking at what is the opposite of it. The opposite of the word we translate as gentleness is to be harsh, abrasive, sarcastic, contentious.
There are so many people in this world that struggle with the discipline of celebration because they just can’t get along with other people. They aren’t reasonable. They aren’t fair. They aren’t considerate. They just don’t know how to live with a spirit of gentleness that can then feed a life of celebration.
I was sitting down with a denominational leader in the Wesleyan church awhile back. We were having a casual discussion when the reflections turned to a particular person. This denominational leader turned to me and said, “I don’t know if you have figured this out yet, but so-and-so is just not a very nice person.”
I thought, “Man. To have a leader in a major holiness denomination that’s initial thought about this given person is. . .’they are not a very nice person.’” I would be mortified to know that was how this leader felt about me. But you know what. . .they’re right. This person isn’t very nice, and coincidently, does not appear to have the ability to live a life of celebration. Is not joyful.
You don’t have to believe me, or agree with me, but I don’t think you can be at odds with everyone, all the time, and still practice the spiritual discipline of celebration. Because joy in life comes when you are able to get along with others. “Let your gentleness be known to all men.”