Posted by on Oct 12, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Christian Joy

Dear Lord….it seems to us that we are in a time that is wearing on us. With the combination of the pandemic and the very divisive campaign time, all we hear and see is argument, bullying with words, unrest at how we will combat the virus we have been experiencing. It’s not easy for us, and for some people, is meaning division between friends. Thank you, Lord, for helping us all through this time. Thank you for the reassurance you are always with us. Thank you for your love and protection. May we all exhibit the mind of Christ and Christian joy to all we meet. The passage we are considering this week is from Philippians 4:1-9. In this section from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul is first concerned about issues between two of the women who have been working with him. He is asking these two people to put on the mind of Christ in working with each other. As a reminder, the mind of Christ that we heard about a couple of weeks ago was specifically about having our minds centered on other people, not ourselves. We were to be working toward unity with God’s creation and people. Instead of being intent on keeping our own mind-set, we are asked to soften up our mind to consider the thoughts and ideas of other people. And, finally, as we transform ourselves to have the mind of Christ, we confess Jesus Christ as Lord. We know that we do not always agree with those people around us. We all have differing opinions, outlooks, etc. We are different people…and we are often asked to use those differing ideas and opinions to help each other solve problems in the world. However, there are also times when we are all asked to put aside our own ideas and consider, together, what is best to solve a problem or a situation. In other words, compromise and find the best solution together. In this passage, Paul is asking the women to reconcile their differences. He is also asking one of their fellow disciples to assist in the resolution of the issues. Notice that in verse 3, Paul asks for help as all of them have worked together in the work of the gospel, “whose names are in the book of life.” Just because of a disagreement, they are all members of God’s family and granted graces and forgiveness by Christ. Here is where we come to the concept of Christian joy, a concept that even in our day and age we can accept as our way of maneuvering through God’s world. In Christian joy, we are all grounded in the Lord. I said ALL are grounded in the Lord. There is no difference for having different ideas, for God is near always and ready to help us. When have you called on God to help you? In Christian joy, as in having the mind of Christ, we are to look outward, not inward. We are to share graciousness with all people. This whole message really spoke to me this week, as I have two friends who are diametrically opposed in many ways. This opposition is culminating right now in the fact that they are on opposite political sides. They have different needs in this time of “physical and social distancing” as one needs people. One doesn’t need to have friends, or so he thinks. These two are quite “stiff-necked” right now. I am attempting to be a sounding block for them….to let their frustrations be exhibited to me.

I am also trying to just “listen”, not comment….just be that sounding block so they can vent to someone who will not judge them at all. Rather…someone who cares about them both and knows there will be a time when they will want to have a conversation together again. The third aspect of Christian joy is that of taking all to God in prayer. Why do we do this? By talking to God…asking Him to help put words in our mouths that will “calm” the frustrations and animosity, our own anxiety about what we are being asked to do subsides gradually. We talk to God, listen to His solutions, take advantage of the opportunities for calm and agreement that He gives to us. By doing this, our anxiety goes down and we are reminded to remember how faithful God is to His people. Not just us…but to ALL he created. We are often that “third person” that Paul was asking to help calm the issues between the two women in Paul’s group. The fourth aspect of Christian joy is realizing that God’s work is way beyond our comprehension. God’s peace is working with people to guard them…to guard us. He gives us the words and actions to help His people. I know that we all have been involved in situations like I mentioned a little earlier. How did you react to the situation? How was the situation resolved? Were you able to be part of the resolution? I am convinced that we all are being asked to put on not only the mind of Christ at this point in our history. But we are also being asked to put on Christian joy to work with people we encounter and work with for the benefit of all. With the widely separated ideas and beliefs, it is not an easy thing to do. But we are assured that God is always with us. He is guiding us in our work, no matter what that may be, who we will be working with, etc. We will ground ourselves in God’s love for all and his creation of us all. We will look outward as to how we can help others and show graciousness and forgiveness to others. We will take all concerns to God in prayer that will calm us to work in this age. We will know that God’s peace is with us always and is guarding us in our work with His people. This Bible verse spoke to me rather loudly today…so I’m sharing it with you. This passage is from Romans 8:38-39. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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