Philippians 1:2–6 (ESV)
”2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Chris shares the true, and lasting, antidote to loneliness. First, he shared some statistics which demonstrate that loneliness is as destructive as the spread of an epidemic. Suicide is the ultimate expression of loneliness and is the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year olds. Those who don’t take their life suddenly may destroy it slowly through drugs, drinking, crime, etc. Loneliness entered the world through sin and leaves a wake of devastation.
Today, we try to find fulfillment through digital connections. Chris called out the mirage of social media. Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. We want friends but are fearful of intimacy. These virtual connections (“likes” and “views”) offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. No matter how many friends I have by affinity (we like the same stuff) or proximity (we frequent the same places) they don’t have the enduring quality of true friendship.
Thankfully, the Apostle Paul writes the answer to loneliness here in Philippians. In verse five he thanks God for our Gospel partnership. Expressed simply, gospel partnership is: Grace + Peace = Joy
Grace (unmerited favor freely given to us) + Peace (the result of grace received in fullness) = Joy (pure gratefulness that no matter what we have grace and peace). This is also known as The Great Exchange.
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange, our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ, not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it, and fill us with it. And He has taken our evils upon Himself that He might deliver us from them… in the same manner as He grieved and suffered in our sins, and was confounded, in the same manner, we rejoice and glory in His righteousness.”
–Martin Luther, Werke (Weimar, 1883), 5: 608. The Great Exchange.
Jesus becomes the center of the relationship because we have received His grace to be saved. With this assurance, we are confident that we have been granted grace and provided peace. What follows is joy, which brings contentment. Make Jesus the Lord of your relationships – parents, children, spouses, bosses, etc. and strife will cease, joy will follow.
Joyful people are sincere people. Joy is a lifestyle that includes all of the ups-and-downs of life – loss, grief, joy, difficulty, goodness, disappointment, celebration. Christians are designed to persevere in this lifestyle. A Christian who makes Jesus the center of their life is like a tree that produces fruit, the fruit of the Spirit.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
Three Ways to Understand Joy
- Joy comes through gospel partnership – Titus 2:11–14, Philippians 1:5
- Joy is not just a feeling, it’s a lifestyle – Romans 12:15, Isaiah 53:3, Ecclesiastes 3:4
- Joy is a lifestyle that celebrates the forward progress of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Matthew 13:18–23, Philippians 1:7–11
Four Realities of Loneliness
- Sometimes, God will lead you into loneliness
- Sometimes, loneliness is the result of your sin
- Sometimes, we will choose loneliness to seek God
- Sometimes, we will experience involuntary loneliness
Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)
1 …let us also lay aside…sin and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking to Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 3 …who endured from sinners such hostility,… that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
- What would most people say is the answer to the question of loneliness?
- When a person is lonely, what are they like? What do you suppose they think about themselves?
- What did Chris mean about Grace + Peace = Joy? Have you seen this principle at work in your life? Has it helped you drive away loneliness?
- In what practical ways do you, or will you, make joy a lifestyle?