Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Hey, thanks for taking the time to watch this week’s Oldtown Short. I wonder, do you realize the power that you hold? Do you understand the difference that you can make in your life and in the world around you, by the simple choices that you make every day?
The choices that I’m talking about have nothing to do with spending lots of money or traveling around the world or volunteering all your time. The choices that I’m talking about are the simple choices that you make every day from the moment you wake up in the morning. They are the choices that you make every day when you sit and drink your first cup of coffee. They are the choices that you make every day when you face a challenge or a difficulty. They are the choices that you make every day whether you say home in your pajamas or get dressed up in a suit for an important business meeting. And they are the choices that you make every day whether you are one or a-hundred-and-one. Are you intrigued?
Friends, the choices that I’m talking about are the choices that we make as to the way that we look at the world around us, and how we choose to react to what happens in our day-to-day lives. Do we worry about the things we can’t control and focus on the problems? Or do we look for the good in the world around us, and give thanks for the simple things?
In the Bible, there is a story about a church. They are trying their best to be faithful, but not only were they facing conflict outside of their walls, they were facing conflict inside their walls as well. They longed for peace in their community, but all they kept finding was conflict and division. Of course, there was community work that needed to be done. Of course, people needed to pull together to offer support to one another. Of course, they needed to work on ways to strengthen who they were as a church. But the real work? The real work needed to start within themselves.
One day they received a letter, from the apostle Paul actually, that told them:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. Do not worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
My friends, in many ways we are just like that church in Philippi. It may be more than two thousand years later, and we may have amazing modern gifts of technology, medicine, and understanding, but we still fill our days worrying about the things we don’t have and the things that we can’t control. We are constantly anxious, and we get overwhelmed by the weight of the world. But, my friends, here’s the thing–peace can’t fully come when hearts are filled with worry. Our hearts can’t be filled with comfort and joy when they are already overflowing with anxiety and fear. We need to remember and to choose to make room. We need to remember and to choose to rejoice. We need to remember and to choose to look for the good in the world around us. And we need to remember and choose to live a life of faith.
But don’t worry my friends, living a life of faith doesn’t mean that you have go out into the world evangelizing, standing on a street corner and telling everyone about Jesus. You don’t have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, but if that’s what feels right, by all means do it!
You see, your life reflects your faith. The way that you look at and react to the world around you mirrors what is in your heart. The way you treat other people, the way you budget and spend your money, even the way you take care of yourself reflects what truly matters to you.
So, this week, do your best to make good choices. Try to worry a little less and rejoice a little more. Let go of your anxiety, making some room in your heart for comfort and joy. Because you just might be surprised how through the eyes of faith you begin to see the world a little differently.