Summary: In Philippians 2, Paul encourages beleivers to expereince joy through solidarity, selflessness, and shining the light of Christ.
Rejoice! Choosing Joy in the Midst of our Mess (2)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 10/11/2015
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to experience deep and authentic joy in their daily lives—even in the toughest times—while others can’t seem to find it no matter how hard they search?
I read this week about a receptionist with a serious case of the grumpies. A man going into the doctor’s office tells the receptionist that he had a sore on his chin that he wanted the doctor to examine. She said to him, "Down the hall, first door to the right, and take off your clothes." "But ma’am," he said, "it’s just a sore on my chin. I don’t think all that is necessary." She repeated, "Down the hall, first door to the right, take off your clothes." "But ma’am," he said. "Down the hall, first door to the right, and take off your clothes." So he went down the hall, took the first door to the right, walked in and saw another man already sitting there in his boxer shorts, shivering. He said to him, "Boy, that receptionist is really something, isn’t she? I just have a little sore on my chin and she told me to come down here, go through this door and take off my clothes." The man in the boxer shorts said, "You think that’s bad? I’m the UPS delivery man."
I think she could use a little more joy in her life. How about you?
Like I said last Sunday, the Bible has a lot to say about happiness. It speaks of indomitable joy as a fruit of God’s Spirit welling up in the life of a believer—joy that runs deeper and stronger because it’s anchored not in our circumstances or successes, but in the love of God and the person of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about that kind of joy. Even though he was in chains twenty-four hours a day, awaiting trial and possible execution, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi that radiates joy. The words joy or rejoice appear no less than sixteen times in four short chapters. In fact the whole theme of the book can be summarized in this one verse: “Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!” (Philippians 4:4 GWT).
Last Sunday we surveyed the first chapter of Philippians where Paul reveals that by focusing on partnerships, positivity, and purpose we can experience more joy in our lives. As we step into chapter two, Paul reveals three more bringers of joy. The first of which is solidarity.
Paul open the second chapter of Philippians with a series of questions: “Does your life in Christ give you strength? Does his love comfort you? Do we share together in the spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? If so, make me very happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2 NCV).
For Paul, the church living in harmony, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose made him very happy. Another translation says “truly happy.” That kind of solidarity—the fellowship and unity that comes from having a shared purpose and passion—can fill our hearts with happiness as well.
This time of year you’re likely to see geese flying south for the winter. I think the church could learn some valuable lessons from these geese. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.
1. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71% greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
2. Those in front rotate their leadership. When the lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.
3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again.
4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it.
It is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together, which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do. This is the kind of fellowship that Paul wanted to see in the church. As Christians we have a common destination (we all want to get to heaven to be with Jesus) and a common purpose (to glorify God with our lives along the way). We can reach that destination and accomplish that goal quicker and easier when we fly in formation, when we encourage one another, and stand by each other. A harmonious church—united by our love for Christ and each other—is a happy church.