Summary: Christians find joy in following Christ and behaving in a Christ-like ways.
Title: Creating a Climate for Joy
Text: Philippians 4:1-9
The Big Idea: Christians find joy in following Christ and behaving in a Christ-like way.
I would like for us to take a moment to watch a clip by the Audio Adrenaline people who went on a road trip across America to find out what makes people rejoice.
Show Audio Adrenaline - Rejoice clip (GodTube.com)
There are many things that diminish our joy… things that crowd into our lives and yet in the midst of it all, some find it, experience it, and express it.
In verse 4 of our text, Paul begins with what some refer to as the first in a list of characteristics or identifying marks of the Christian life. At the top of his list is a joyful spirit.
1. Be joyful!
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – Rejoice!” 4:4
The importance is under scored by two terms:
• Always be full of joy!
• Again I say it, always be full of joy!
This kind of joy is a joyful spirit that persists despite whatever is happening around us. This kind of joy does not require sunny, blue skies or big puffy clouds.
Depending on if you were alive and what of yours was at stake the “Stock Market Crash” dates of October 1929, October 1987, and October 2008 are disconcerting. Words like “Black Thursday” and “Black Monday” describe events in 1929 and 1987. BusinessWeek calls our current crisis “The Panic of 2008.” (Ben Steveman, Stock Market Crash: Understanding the Panic, BusinessWeek, October 10, 2008)
And if you are looking to hear a cheerful word and inclined to follow the musings of Patrick Buchanan, earlier this year he wrote, “The Party’s over… What we are witnessing today is how empires end… The last Superpower is unable to defend its borders, protect its currency, win its wars, balance its budget. Medicare and Social Security are headed for the cliff… “ (www.vdare.com/buchanan/080918)
Depending on if you were alive and your age at the time, dates like December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor), November 22, 1963 (assassination of President Kennedy), April 20, 1999 (Columbine School shooting), and September 11, 2001 (terrorist attack on World Trade Towers), send a chill up and down your spine.
My frame of reference as a child and young person focuses on getting polio shots, survival drills where we practiced hiding under our school desks in the event of an nuclear attack during the Cold War, and later getting drafted to go to Viet Nam.
On this day a person would have to be living in La La Land to be unaware of the those things that will loom large in our collective memories for years to come.
A week ago during the Presidential Debate Tom Brokaw said, “There are new economic realities out there that everyone in this hall and across this country understands that there are going to have to be some choices made. Health policies, energy policies, and entitlement reform: Social Security and Medicare, what are going to be your priorities and in what order? Which of those will be your highest priority your first year in office and which will follow in sequence?”
The Apostle Paul was talking about again and again, always having a spirit of joy even if we have no health care coverage, are living in an increasingly poluted atmosphere, depleting our natural resources, and paying $10 a gallon for gasoline, and even if Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid go bust… even if your investments tank and your 401 K fizzles.
William Barclay says this is a joy that is independent of all the things on earth. He says it is the kind of joy two lovers share when all that matters is that they are together, simply because they have each other. (William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, P.92)
I remember when Bonnie and I were first married… we lived with two different families while our store-front apartment at South Town Chapel in Minneapolis was being built. When we got our first apartment we had a picnic table in our dining room and what furniture we had was given to us by her parents. I remember stories of my parents using wooden orange crates for end tables… we all have those kinds of stories. And most of us look back at those times as good times. Nothing much mattered. We were in love and being together was all that mattered.
Paul is saying the most important thing about being able to be happy and have a spirit of joy is being in Christ… knowing that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God that is revealed to us in Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)
But out text outlines several things that do in deed diminish our joy. The first is interpersonal conflict.