Sermon Summary - "Attitude is Everything" - But what attitude will bring you outrageous joy?
I’m afraid the sermon teaser may have set up false expectations. People were promised a sermon on “outrageous joy.” As I worked through the text, I decided that “inexpressible joy” was a better term since we find it in the scriptures: 1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
“Inexpressible joy” is deep joy. It’s not the momentary joy that erupts when something wonderful happens — like the joy of a gameshow contestant when they win the car. It’s deep unshakeable joy that continues as the undercurrent of life regardless of external circumstances.
Joy is that sense of engagement and purpose. Joy is what a child might feel building a sandcastle, when all sense of distraction and time disappear. Joy is deep contentment.
C.S. Lewis writes about joy: “[Joy] must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again … I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.”
So how do you get this joy that cannot be yours by seeking it directly? Paul tells us to have the same attitude as Christ, who voluntarily came to earth and lived a life of obedience to the Father – even to death on a cross. Paul gives us the following instructions as the way to follow Christ in his attitude:
Philippians 2:3–4 (NIV84)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:14–15 (NIV84)
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe
Paul tells us that we need to build these attitudes into our lives. He calls it “working out our salvation.” Philippians 2:12–13 (NIV84) “...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
We don’t have to work on our salvation. It is fully accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has reconciled the world to Himself through Jesus and is not counting our sins against us.
But every day we have to work out our salvation. What does it meant to follow Christ in our marriage? In our parenting? In our relationships at work? As we relate to those serving us at the grocery store or restaurant? As we talk about other people in church?
Jesus has promised us the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. As we trust in the saving work of Jesus and work out what our faith means in our daily lives, inexpressible joy will be the byproduct, though we have not sought it directly.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “Joy bursts in our lives when we go about doing the good at hand and not trying to manipulate things and times to achieve joy.” “[Joy] is a by-product. Its very existence presupposes that you desire not it but something other and outer.”
The path to inexpressible joy is the path of following Jesus — trusting him with our lives and souls and following him every day.