The Mind of Christ | Philippians Week 9 | Dr. Chip Bennett

7 months ago

Discussion Questions

  1. How can we make sure our focus stays on Christ rather than the things of this world?
  2. In what ways is it easy to become what we constantly surround ourselves with?
  3. How can we remind ourselves to do everything with the goal of advancing the Gospel?

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Sermon Transcript:

I thought I’d start off things a little bit differently this evening. I want to thank all of you all that came out in the rain. You are the saints of the Most High God. I always tell everybody that a rainy day in Florida is like a snow day up north. You know? So, thank God. Internet volume is probably up massively. Everybody’s at home, comfortable, going, “Ha! I didn’t have to get out in that rain.”

Anyway, I’m so glad everybody’s here. But I thought I’d start off a little differently. I’ve got a couple of pictures that I’m going to put up on the screen. Some of you all, probably, on the first one, it’ll make sense to you. By the second one, it’ll really make sense, but the second one may confuse some of you all who thought you understood it on the first one. But by the third one, even if you’re not paying attention, you’re going to understand what we’re talking about. So, let’s look here. Some of you all are going, “I know what that is.”

Some of you are going, “I have no idea what that is.”

That’s okay. The next picture, some of you are going to go, “Okay. I sort of understand that. I actually look like the first one.”

No. But the third one here, we will see what’s going on. I think, now, you understand what’s going on here. The first picture was a picture of a tire, a wheel, that was getting aligned. The second picture was off of a chiropractic website of a spinal cord that was properly aligned. And, of course, here, you can see that everything’s aligned except one thing. Why do I say that about alignment? What’s the point, here, that I’m talking about?

Well, the point that I’m talking about is that when things are not aligned, like, say, a tire, it doesn’t work as effectively. It’s not as safe. It wears wrong. When our spine is not aligned right, it can create headaches, backaches, and all of these other things. But when the Church of the living God is not aligned in the proper way, what happens is it really does damage to the world because we’ve got to be on-point and on-message on a regular basis. I say that because, for the first time in my life — and, of course, as somebody who’s studied Church history, this isn’t the only time in the history of the Church where when you look at the Church, especially in America, it has gotten a little bit off-balance or misaligned in some ways. It happens all throughout Church history.

But in my lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Church so misaligned, so divided, so factioned off, and all kinds of stuff. That’s what’s happened over the last several years. When the Church is not aligned, what we see is what we see. Twenty-three percent of the people in America, over the last year, walked out of Church. They’re just not there anymore. It’s like this incredible shifting of stuff that’s going on. Christians that love their brothers and sisters won’t even talk to their brothers and sisters anymore over things that are maybe important to them, but really temporal type of stuff.

So, I say all of that because we’re getting ready to go into a chapter in Philippians that I personally believe Paul could not be more clear about how important it is for church people and the Church to be properly aligned so that we can be the witness that God has called us to be, so that we can be the intentional neighbors that God has called us to be. So, you know we’ve been studying Philippians. If you’ve been here, you’ve gone through three whole chapters now. We start Philippians 4 this weekend. But before we get into Philippians 4, I want to just sort of give you a quick summary. And you should remember some of this. If you don’t, don’t raise your hand. Just keep it to yourself. But you should remember some of this. What Paul is doing in this epistle is he’s writing to a group of people that are obviously feeling something. Because he starts off in Philippians 1 talking about how he’s in prison, but his circumstances do not dictate how God can work in his life.

In fact, he says, “The Gospel is going all through the whole palace guard, and people are understanding who Jesus is.

Even though he’s in prison, the Word of God is not bound. He says that because, at the end of Philippians 1, he tells the church at Philippi to not be frightened by your opponents. So, it appears what’s going on is that the Philippian church is starting to experience some sort of opposition. There’s some sort of something going on, and it creates angst because whenever stuff starts happening to us, especially if it happens to a church or whatever else, people go into a sort of defense mode. They go into a posture of, “I’ve got to take care of myself. I’ve got to make sure I’m okay. I’ve got to check out for myself,” and all of these things.

Which is why, at the beginning of Philippians 2, Paul says, “Don’t look upon your own interests first. Look upon the interests of others.”

In fact, he says, “Count others as more significant than yourself.”

He didn’t say they were more significant. He just said “count them” because he’s trying to get the Church to have the mind of Christ. He’s trying to get them to be properly aligned because when we’re not properly aligned, we do everything differently than the way God would want us to do.

Which is why he says to the church, in Philippians 2:5, “Have the same mind that Jesus had.”

Then he tells us what that mind was, doesn’t he? He says that Jesus didn’t cling to what was His, which is easy to do when there’s opposition. Right? It’s real easy to start clinging to stuff when you start feeling like maybe there’s some pressure from without. You start sort of hunkering down. He says, “No, no. Jesus didn’t cling to what was His. He didn’t cling to the fact that He was fully God. He gave that up and He became a servant.”

He says this phrase. He says, “He was obedient even to the point of death.”

Which I don’t think is a throwaway phrase to the Philippian church. Then he tells them, “You need to shine like lights. This is your opportunity. When opposition, problems, and difficulties — this is the time for the Church to shine.”

In fact, he says, “Shine like stars.” He says, “So that you understand, here’s myself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. All of these people had the mind of Christ. They put others first. In fact, Epaphroditus was so sick for the work of Christ that he almost died.”

And Paul says, “Honor such people.”

He’s laying this out. Through this whole epistle telling people to have the mind of Christ, he keeps telling them that when they truly have the mind of Christ, no matter what circumstances they’re going through. They can have joy. And joy becomes this thing that we have that people want to know why we have it because, typically, when things are not going right, people aren’t joyful. You know? Be honest with yourself. When you get the bad phone call or whatever else, the first thing you probably don’t do is go, “Amen. I’m going to rejoice right now.”

You know? But Paul says, “No. Christians should be people who rejoice. They’re people that have a different way about them.”

And in Philippians 3, he says, “You give everything up. No matter what you have, just give it up for knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection. Right? But also in the fellowship of His suffering.”

Like, these are not throwaway phrases. Then he reminds them, at the end of Philippians 3, that they’re citizens of heaven. They’re in a race, Paul says. They’re pressing towards that call, upwards, to the stand where they’re awarded. They’re running a race. He’s not going to look behind. He’s going to stay forward. Then he reminds them, “Hey, we’re citizens of heaven. As we run that race, everybody along that race is an opportunity for us to share what it means to be a citizen of heaven.”

So, he’s trying to get the Church aligned. Then what he does, in Philippians 4, is a sort of summary of everything that he said because he’s getting ready, in Philippians 4:2, to deal with what I think is probably one of the most primary reasons that he has written this epistle to begin with. It’s going to be super important because it speaks so eloquently to what we’re going through, in so many ways, today. But his summary, in Philippians 4:1, he says, “Therefore, based on everything that I’ve said,”

Literally, this is “so then.” He uses the same phrase in Philippians 2 to sort of summarize up to that point. But he’s saying, “Therefore, so then, based on everything that I’ve said, based on the fact that you need to have joy in circumstances that maybe aren’t as favorable to you as you want, the fact that we’re going to have the mind of Christ, that we’re willing to put everything aside and cling to Him to know Him,”

 He says, “Therefore [so then], my brothers, whom I love and long for,”

What a tenderness here. I mean, we’re going to come back to this at the end of the message, but hold that in your mind for a moment. “That I love and long for.” There’s a tenderness there, in Paul. He says, “In fact, you’re my joy.” Here’s this joy that comes up again. The people of God are Paul’s joy. They’re the people that he longs and loves. He says, “In fact, you’re my crown,” picking back up on that race thing that he had just been talking about in Philippians 3. He’s like, “You’re not a wreath that will perish after a little bit of time. You’ve got a crown of life. You’re my crown. When we stand before God, you matter. I care about you all.”

 He says, “…stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”

“Everything I’ve said — have the mind of Christ, have joy, put things behind, put others before, don’t worry about your circumstances. God’s at work. Even if you’re in prison, God can do things that you can’t even imagine that He’s done.”

 Then he says what he says in Philippians 4:2. He says, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.”

This is powerful. Paul usually doesn’t call people out by name, in letters, unless he’s saying something super positive about them, at the very end, or he’s mentioning them for something that’s important, or is sort of like a greeting, or some sort of positive thing. He says here, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.”

Now, you can see this in the English translation. It’s also the same in the original language. This word “entreat” is a compound word. It means “to call alongside,” but it can also mean “to implore” or “to entreat.” And he uses it twice. He doesn’t say, “I entreat Euodia and Syntyche.” He says, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche…” — look here — “…to agree, to get it together, in the Lord.”

So, he’s got an issue here. Who are these people? They’re two women. They’re two prominent women in the Church. In fact, they’re leaders at the church in Philippi. Which is really interesting because a lot of people are like, “Well, women don’t have a place for leadership in the Church.”

That’s why I say, “Don’t read the Bible unless you want to mess up everything you’ve ever been taught or believed. The Bible will be like, “Whoa.”

So, we’ve got two women here who are significant women. They might even be the church pastors of this church. They might be the people that actually own the place that people worship. We don’t know. But what we do know is what Paul’s going to tell you in a minute. They are leaders in the church who Paul considered to be on equal footing with himself. But he says, “I entreat you two people to think about what you’re doing, to agree in the Lord.”

My suspicion — and nobody can say this for a fact because we weren’t there at Philippi. The Bible wasn’t written to you and I. It was written for you and I, but it wasn’t written to you and I. The fact that we don’t know, and we can’t go back and put everything back together, my suspicion is that the disagreement these two women had was over the way the Church should handle the opposition that was coming in. That’s what I personally believe. I can’t say that it’s a fact. It’s obviously an opinion. But having looked at this book, read this book, studied this book, and looked at everything, the fact that there’s opposition going on, they’re not supposed to be frightened by their opposition, I’m guessing they probably were handling opposition, or felt like the Church should handle it differently. There was a little bit of this going on between these two women.

So, Paul goes on to say — after he says, “Would you agree? Think the same things. Have the same disposition, in the Lord, that you should have.” He doesn’t say, “Think on your own.” He says, “Think and agree in the Lord. Do it His way.”

 He says, “Yes, I ask you also, true companion,”

We have no idea who this person was. There are people that will tell you. You can read commentaries and they’ll say, “Oh, well, it was this person or that person,” but we don’t know. What we do know is this is masculine. We do know that it is a man, whoever it is. And we’re told that it’s a true companion. He says, “I’m asking you to help these women.”

In other words, Paul believes that sometimes, in the Church, you have to get other people involved to help a Church issue. He says, “Help these women,” and listen to what he says about these women.

 He says, “…who have labored side by side…”

Paul considers Euodia and Syntyche on the same level as himself. He doesn’t say, “They’re lower than me, they worked for me, they were under my authority,” or anything like that.

 He says, “…[These women] have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement…”

Honestly, we don’t know who Clement was. We know that somebody wrote an epistle, later on, named Clement, but probably not the same person because of when this was written and when Clement was written. It had been a long time. About a 60 years, probably, difference in timeframe. Probably not the same person. We don’t know who this person is. They would’ve known who this person was.

 But he says, “…and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

Paul’s like, “There’s no question here. These people are believers. There’s no question that they’re in the book of life.”

I love that assuredness that Paul has. Like, as a pastor, I really want people to have that assuredness that, man, you can be confident. Like John says, you can know that you have eternal life. And so many Christians struggle with that. Paul didn’t struggle with that. He’s like, “These people are in the book of life, man. That’s just the way it is. Period. End of story. They’re in.”

But he says there’s an issue. Then what he does — and this is why I think this is so relevant to us. We’ve got two people that are disagreeing. Of course, my thought is that they’re disagreeing over how to handle the opposition that’s incoming. I’ll tell you why I believe that because of what he says next, and along with the other stuff that’s going on in the epistle. Look at how he deals with this issue.

 He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

Have you got a problem? Have you got whatever? Rejoice in the Lord. Not in your circumstances but rejoice in the Lord.

 “Again I will say, rejoice.”

Keep the mind of Christ on this stuff. Focus on Him. Do it His way. Rejoice in the Lord. Then look at what he says because this is so important.

 He says, “Let your reasonableness…”

This word “reasonableness” probably could be translated better as “gentleness” or “kindness,” but “reasonableness” is not a bad translation because it says that you’re reasonable. Some translations say “let your moderation be known.” In other words, that you’re not crazy, that you’re not a person given to extremities. He says, “Euodia and Syntyche, get along. And people in the Church, help them out. What you need to do is you need to rejoice in the Lord so that your gentleness and your kindness can be known to everyone.”

Where this is powerful is if they’re going through opposition, Paul is saying, “The way you should respond to opposition is that people should be able to see your reasonableness, your kindness, your gentleness to the way you’re being opposed.”

Rather than fighting, yelling, screaming, and saying, “Oh, we’re going to do all this stuff and everything else that we sometimes find ourselves doing,” which is the exact opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Do you want to know what my people look like? Matthew 5-7. They’re the people that turn the other cheek, they’re the people that walk another mile, they’re the people that love enemies. Wow. I mean, this is who my people are.”

He says, “Ladies, stop for a moment. You’re fighting here. You need to agree in the Lord. Rejoice in Him in such a way that your disposition is kind and gentle towards everyone, that everybody in the community knows that we’re people who carry the joy of the Lord, and we do things differently.”

It’s natural, when opposition and problems come your way, to respond defensively. It’s natural to get upset. It’s natural to sort of just be ugly, at times. Paul says, “No, no, no. Help these two women out who are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord. Find your comfort in Him and let your gentleness and your kindness be known to everyone because the Lord is at hand. The Lord is near. What he’s saying is, “Hey, when you and I respond in a way that befits the Gospel, in a way that responds to whatever’s going on, and we’re able to not bring all the disagreement within the Church, we’re able to be together and rejoice in the Lord, and then let everybody know the gentleness and the kindness that we have, that’s where the Lord’s presence is at. That’s where the opportunity is for people who are far from God to see God’s presence at work.”

Peter says it a different way. Peter says, “When you’re going through difficulty and you’re going through opposition, people should be able to see the hope that you and I have within us.”

There’s something about the way we respond to opposition. So, we live in a world, right now, where everybody feels the tension. I mean, you just have to wake up in the morning and you can just feel it everywhere. Everybody feels the tension. We’ve got all kinds of stuff going on in our world, and we’re inundated with all kinds of negativity everywhere. It’s like everything’s negative. You can’t find anything, almost, anymore, that’s positive. What happens is when that comes inward and seeps into the Church, everybody starts going at each other and all this other stuff. And you see it around America. You see it in the Church. I mean, churches are splitting, people are factioning off and doing all of this stuff. Paul would go, “No, no, no. That’s not the mind of Christ. That’s not the way we should respond to these things.”

So, how does the local church stay aligned? How do we stay on task? How do we stay on point? People say, “Chip, this seems to be your message that you like to speak about.”

I didn’t create this. Everywhere I turn in the Bible, it’s like, “Keep the main thing the main thing.”

Jesus is like, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” Paul says, “Keep it dear.” Peter says, “Make sure you’re focused on Jesus.”

Everybody’s saying it. The writer to the Hebrews is like, “Man, don’t get caught up in anything else. Keep your attention on Jesus.”

This is not something I’m making up. This is all through the Bible, that if we’re not focused on God, we end up getting focused on stuff that doesn’t help the cause. So, how do we stay aligned? I mean, I can’t speak to the whole world. I mean, I’d love to have a platform to speak to the American Church. God’s not given me that platform. My platform’s here. How do we stay aligned? How do we, in the midst of all the stuff that’s going on — and many of you all feel it. You sense it in your families. You sense it with friends. I mean, you sense it at work. How do we stay aligned? Well, I’ve got some practical things that I think will help us, based off what we just looked at.

First of all, by continually revisiting the genuine love that we should have for one another. You know, one of the things that we do, as humans — and I want you to lean in here and listen to this. When we label people — and we do. We label them as, “Oh, they’re over on the left,” or, “They’re on the right,” or, “They’re this group,” or, “They’re that group,” or, “They’re whatever.” We’ve got labels that we put on people. When we put labels on people, what we can do is we can treat them less than human, which is what we do with labels. That’s why labels are so — do you know who the label-maker is? The label-maker is the devil. He likes to accuse. The word there is “giving names.” He likes to put people in different camps because He can divide. Division is of the enemy. Unity is of the Spirit.

So, what happens is when everything gets going crazy, and all kinds of stuff gets going on, we sort of hunker down, we sort of posture, we sort of get with the people that sort of agree with what we agree, and then we sort of push back. But we’re supposed to love every single person that’s here. And not just here, but in other churches. All the people that call upon the name of the Lord. This is why it’s so important. We need to remind ourselves of how important it is to love our brothers.

Let me put this out to you. I’m going to give you this suggestion. Some of y’all won’t do it, and that’s fine. I mean, I’ve been doing this for a long time now. I know that whatever a pastor says, most people will go, “Yeah. That’s great. Love you. We’ll see you next weekend.”

You know? But here’s what I would encourage you to do. I’m going to encourage every service to do this. How about making it a priority to get to church 15 minutes early, and to commit to staying 15 minutes afterwards, and just getting to know people that you don’t know? See, if we did that, the person that feels lonely, or the person that feels out of place, they wouldn’t feel that way. But what happens is we get in, we want to consume, we want to get in our cars and get out before anybody else gets out so that we can get to wherever we want to go as fast as we can. And I understand that. Like, I get it. I do understand that. But what I would like for you to do is to see — look at what Paul says. He goes, “I love you and I long for you. You’re my joy and my crown.”

Is that the love that you have for the body of Christ? Is that the love that we have for the body of Christ? I mean, I love God’s Church, and I get mad — I’m going to be honest with you. I get frustrated when I see people attacking the Church. Even at times where maybe it’s people that I go, “Yeah, they’re probably not doing it as good as they should, and that passage maybe was out of context,” or whatever else, but I just get defensive when people attack God’s Church because these are the people that we should love and long for. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 16, there’s an interesting household. It’s the household of Stephanas. Look at what it says here. They were the first converts in Achaia. It says, “They have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.”

I love the King James translation. It’s a bad translation, but it’s a great translation. I love it. It says that they have addicted themselves to the service of the saints. Can you imagine a church that said to itself, “Do you know what? When we come to church, we’re not just there to consume. We’re going to be there to give, to serve, to pray, and to encourage. Can you imagine if everybody stayed after 15 minutes and just loved on each other, prayed for each other, and asked how you could help each other, asked somebody out to lunch that you don’t know, or found somebody that’s maybe younger or older than you and poured into their lives? I mean, can you imagine what that would do for us? What it would do is it would diminish some of the fighting that goes on because it’s really hard to go after somebody that you’re in a close relationship with.

So, how do we stay focused? How does the local church not get misaligned? Well, the first thing that we do is we continually revisit the love that we should have for one another. Secondly, by being on guard against a misplaced focus. It’s so easy to get off focus in today’s world. Do you have any idea how many times you look at your phone? Do you have any idea how many times you watch TV? Do you have any idea how much screen time, how much distractions? Billboards and radio stuff going on. I mean, it’s a wonder that all of us aren’t crazy. Right? I mean, with all of the stuff, it’s like, “Incoming, incoming, incoming.”

What I can tell you, though, is this: When God’s Kingdom is not first, we will always end up seeking the other things rather than Him. And we ultimately get nothing because He’s the only one who can give us life. That’s why Jesus said, in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all the other things will be added into your life.”

You can’t go after the other things and get Jesus. You have to go after Jesus. He has to be the focus. This is my life’s deal. I want to keep people focused on Jesus because that is what we have to do. So, how can we, practically, not get a sort of misplaced focused? Because it’s really easy. Three things. First, pay attention to what gets our attention. Like, some of you all should do this. You’ve got a notepad on your phone, or maybe you like to just write stuff down. Take a day and go, “Okay. I spent three hours watching this program called ‘The Bachelor.’ I spent two hours watching a bunch of people argue over current events. I spend three hours on my phone, blasting people on social media.”

Just pay attention to what gets your attention. And let me just give you some really good wisdom here. We become what we constantly behold. Where we spend our time will shape our lives. What we allow to speak into our lives will be the way that we speak of others. I can get around people and listen to them speak, and I can tell you what stations they watch on TV because they’re just parroting. What’s coming in is what’s going out.

This is so important. I’m not here to be snarky or give you a hard time. I’m here to help. I’m here to try to say, “Listen, sometimes we’ve just got to stop for a moment.”

What happens is if all we’re putting in is garbage, don’t be surprised when someone reads something out of the Scripture that you find repugnant, because you’ve filled your mind with all these things and Scripture is different than all of these things. What happens is when we get sort of filled with all of that stuff, our focus will never be where it should be. In fact, the Psalmist tells us, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain.”

Listen. This is important. He says, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways.”

Like, he understands that what I’m constantly looking at, I’m going to be like. I’m going to parrot the things that I allow in my life. That’s why Solomon says, “Keep your heart. Guard your heart with all vigilance,” because what goes in comes out. If you’re not guarding this stuff, what’s going to happen is it’s going to get in there and it’s going to get us looking at things and focused on things that are not as important as making sure the Church stays focused on being the mouthpiece for Jesus, preaching the Gospel, and being intentional neighbors in the community that we live in. The second thing that will help us to not get a misplaced focus is to ask the question, “Does this really advance the Gospel?”

Just ask yourself that question. As soon as you start to feel that thing come out of your mouth — have you ever had that happen where it comes out of your mouth, and as it’s coming out of your mouth, you’re going, “No…”

Have you ever had that? Maybe you haven’t. You probably are more spiritual than I am. But I mean, it’s like, “No…” — see, once it goes out, it’s there. But ask the question, “Before I say this, is this really advancing the Gospel? Does this remove obstacles to Jesus, or does it create them?”

Because see, misplaced focus creates obstacles. Keeping the main thing the main thing removes as many obstacles as we can. That’s why Paul says, in Acts 15, “Don’t make it difficult for the Gentiles to come to faith. Don’t put obstacles in front of them. Stop it. Just don’t do that. There’s no reason to do that.”

In fact, listen to Luke 15. It says, “The tax collectors and sinners…” — I always have to say this when I use this verse because I find it funny. You may not find it funny. The tax collectors were so bad and hated in the first century that “sinner” was not a good enough label for them. That’s how bad people didn’t like the tax collectors.

 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.”

Like, whoa. The people that were the furthest from God not only wanted to be around Jesus, but they wanted to listen to Him. I remember when I read that for the first time, and actually read it to where it read me, it just blasted everything. For whatever reason, I grew up in a tradition that I thought wherever Jesus was at, everybody would be running from Him because He was like, “You sinner. You this and that. You didn’t do this, you didn’t live up to that, and you didn’t do this, and you didn’t do that.”

It’s like, man, no, no, no. Actually, the only people that Jesus really ripped on a regular basis were the religious people. Let me say that again. The people that Jesus really ripped on a regular basis were the religious people. Read Matthew 23. It’s a pretty good rippage. Anyway, they’re drawing near to hear Him. So, the posture of Jesus is that those who were far away from God wanted to get near Him and listen to what He had to say. Like, they wanted to be near Him.

As I was preparing for the message, I don’t know where I got this. I think somebody had put it on Instagram, or somebody had put it on somewhere, and I was just reading it. I was like, “I need to grab that and take that.”

I don’t even know who this guy is. I need to look him up. I just thought it was so good that I wanted to give Him created for the statement, but I thought this was absolutely funny because this is so often the way we repel people. This guy named Pastor Scott says, “Jesus would not talk about how smoking destroys God’s temple while simultaneously devouring His third piece of fried chicken, fourth cookie, or both at a church potluck.”

Do you follow how that works? Are you following me, here, on this one? The idea is that sometimes we’re just pushing people away in ways that we don’t need to. So, third thing about making sure that we don’t get misplaced focus is to be aware of how easily good things can become idols. Like, things that are good. They’re not bad. Maybe a particular stance or a certain moral issue. But they can become the focus and become an idol rather than making sure that we’ve got our focus in the right spot. See, it’s not just about turning our attention away from the world. We do that fairly well. Like, “I’m not going there. I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that.”

Like, we sort of get that part. We understand, “Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t be doing that.”

But it’s not really about turning our attention away from the world. It’s turning our attention to heavenly things. The Bible says, “Set your mind on the things that are above.”

When we’re heavenly people, we just do it differently. In fact, the good things cannot be allowed to displace the Gospel. Let me put it as clearly as I can. When the Church is a mouthpiece for — and put whatever you want to put on that line. Whatever issue it is that’s your soapbox, whatever it is that you think about, whatever it is going on in the world, when the Church becomes a mouthpiece for whatever you want to put there, and if what’s there is anything other than Jesus, we really cease to be the Church at that point. Our job is to preach Jesus. Go through the book of Acts. Read what they preached everywhere they went. They preached Jesus unto them. He preached Jesus unto them. He went and preached Jesus unto them. He read from the Old Testament Scriptures and preached Jesus unto them.

That’s the message that we’ve got. Our issues and soapboxes are not saving anybody. There’s only one name given to mankind that can save, and His name is Jesus. And that’s the name that we have to remember, that we have to preach, that we have to proclaim. We have to lift Him up. If you go, “Well, I don’t believe that,” that’s Acts 4:12. That’s the Scripture. No name given among men whereby anybody can be saved. That’s Acts 4:12. You can look it up if you go, “I don’t know. I’m going to fact check him.”

Good. Go fact check it in Acts 4:12. Third thing: How can we stay aligned? Well, to realize the value of true Christian joy and how important that is in the world. See, Paul says, “Rejoice.” He’s got two women that are fighting. People always go, “Oh, the early Church had it together.”

No, they didn’t. No more than we do. They’re just like us. You know? If you don’t believe that, read Acts 6. They had all kinds of problems. Some people were getting dissed with the food that was being passed out. They were like, “Hold on. How come we’re not getting any food?”

“I don’t know.”

Of course, what the apostles did would probably irritate most American Christians. Do you know what they said?

“We’re not doing it. Go get seven people that you can have do it. We’re going to go study Scripture and pray.”

Can you imagine if a pastor did that?

“Hey, there’s somebody in the hospital.”

“Yeah, I’m not going to go do that. You go visit them. I’m going to go spend time in the Word of God and pray.”

We’d go, “That is a terrible person,” except that’s exactly what they did in Acts 6. But who cares what the Bible says anymore? I always make it whatever we want to do.

Anyway, he says, “Rejoice in the Lord. Stop it. Rejoice in the Lord and let your reasonableness be known to everyone.”

We ought to be the place that everybody in Sarasota goes, “Man, no matter what’s going on, those people have got joy, they’re gentle, and they’re kind. I mean, you can even be nasty to them and they’re nice people. Like, what is going on with them?”

That then is your time to step through and say, “Let me tell you about Jesus.”

That’s when it matters. Rather than, “Let me tell you what you’re doing wrong. Let me point out this sin in your life.”

No. Nobody needs the sin pointed. We all know. You think the person that’s sinning really bad doesn’t know he’s doing stuff? Or she? Come on. He says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone because the Lord is at hand. He’s near.”

In fact, this is the way I do it schematically. Christian joy, having joy, being people of joy who have the mind of Christ, done in a gentle and reasonable manner, when our joy pervades in such a way that we’re able to just take whatever comes our way and say, “Hey, I’m here to serve. I’m here to wash feet. I’m here to love you.”

I don’t believe this world’s all that there is. I’m playing the highest stakes game in town. I’m playing for another city. I’m playing for another country. I’m a citizen of heaven. I’m putting all my eggs in that Jesus basket.”

When Christian joy is done in a gentle and reasonable manner, it’s a witness. It’s a witness to the fact that God has come and can do things in people’s lives that are far different than what the world can do. You can be like James and say, “Hey, count it joy when you fall on all kinds of difficult trials and problems. Count it joy. God’s at work.”

I mean, how many of us — let’s be honest. Just be honest for a moment. When the world falls out from underneath your feet, don’t most of us go, “God, what are You doing? Are You aware?”

I mean, that’s not a good, biblical reaction. A good, biblical reaction is when trials and difficulties come, to be able to count it joy because you know God is at work in your life, building patience, building steadfastness. If you’ve got a problem and you don’t know what’s going on, He says, “Ask.”

James 1:5. If you lack wisdom, ask. If you don’t know what God is trying to do in your life through this difficulty, ask Him. He’ll reveal that to you. So, Christian joy that’s done in the right way is a witness, and that’s where God’s presence shows up. So, we live in a time, right now, where there’s all kinds of stuff going on. Can I tell you something? You ought to look up and go, “Man, this is awesome. God has put together a time and a season where everybody’s messed up. This is the time for me to get close with God. This is the time for me to rejoice in the Lord so that I can have so much joy and so much peace that when I walk out there into the garbage and the chaos, everybody wants to know why I am the way that I am.”

That then is your ticket to say, “Let me tell you about the one who saved my soul, who forgave my sins, who put my life back together. His name is Jesus.”

Amen? So, we’re going to sing a song. There’s no reason to leave early. It’s raining out there. You’re going to get wet. I’ll do my best dad joke. It’s raining cats and dogs out there. You’ll step in a poodle. Okay? So, don’t go out there. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to sing a song and it’s going to remind us, again and again, of what we are called to do. Don’t be downtrodden. Don’t be fearful. Don’t do what the world does when everything’s falling apart. Be a Christian and go, “If everything is falling apart, that means God is looking for opportunities to put things back together in a real way.”

Will you bow your heads?

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