Summary: If you want to live a life a joy you need to learn how to live it in a united community of believers.
Good sermon last week - I choose joy
Then I went home --
Kids didn’t want to take a nap
Fought over the same toy – a broken happy meals toy
Bills, laundry, dishes
Watched the news, economy, terrorism, gas prices, the price of chocolate is going up
Choosing Joy is easy, it’s living a life of joy that is so hard.
It takes a major attitude adjustment
A change in our focus from self to others
Oh, I know we, as Christians, are always thinking of others and trying to serve others. Of course our efforts to care for others is kind of like the story two friends who went to dinner together to one of the family style restaurants – you know where the bring the food on common platters and you serve yourself. Each of the friends had ordered filet of sole and after a few minutes the waiter came back with their order. Two pieces of fish were on same platter, a very large piece and a much smaller one. One of the men took the platter and proceeded to serve his friend. Placing the smallest piece of fish on a plate, he handed it across the table. “Well, you certainly do have the nerve! Exclaimed his friend.
What’s troubling you?” asked the other. “Look what you’ve done,” he answered. “you’ve given me the little piece and kept the big one for yourself “How would you have done it?” the man asked His friend replied “If I were serving I would have given you the big piece, “Well replied the man who had done the serving “what’s your problem I‘ve got the big piece haven’t I.”
Far too often our unselfishness is really like that of the friend. It is really about what we want. We we want but Joy, true joy, comes out of unselfish living in the midst of a community of others.
In Philippians 2 Paul is saying you and I already have everything we need to live joyfully. He does this by making four if statements. In the English language “if” often conveys a degree of doubt but in the Greek language this sentence construction called the first class condition does not have anything to do with doubt. On the contrary these “ifs” are not to be understood as conditional statements but as true statements. It is Paul’s rhetorical way of forcefully saying “since.” Since you have encouragement from being united with Christ, since you have comfort from his love, since you have the fellowship with the Holy Spirit and since you have been given tenderness and compassion make yours and my joy complete by living in unity.
George F. MacLeod, in Leadership Vol 2 says the Bible is all about community: from the Garden of Eden to the City at the end. The pattern for joyful Christian living is a unified community of believers. Jesus didn’t call each of the disciples and then send them out and say I want you to live out there all by yourself and just think about God. Just look at the beauty of creation, sit out on the lake in your boat and you will experience God. Or better on Sunday mornings stay at home in bed and converse with God. No, he called them together into a cooperative spirit and molded them into one body. Ephesians 4:3-4 says: There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called --- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Unity of believers was so important to Jesus that it was his final prayer before going to Gethsemane. John 17:20 records this prayer, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 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. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
The oneness that exists between Christians is a oneness created by God. It exists not because we have so much in common, not because we all look alike or act alike but because we are mutually dependent on God. We are all depend upon Him for salvation, divine forgiveness and eternal hope and in our dependence we are into interdependence upon each other to provide here on earth a unified a community of Christ. We are called to be a united community where people can be real with one another, where people can share their hearts without fear of being judged or labeled. We are called to be a harmonious community characterized by love, honesty, and respect stirring one another on to a deeper intimacy with Christ.