Text: Phil. 2:17 – 18                                                                                                      

“Does Christianity Spoil Our Fun?”

 

            A good friend of mine just last week, even after we planned this sermon, invited a coworker to church, and his coworker said, “I’m not going to church because I don’t want to give up on having some fun.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something like that. He meant it, and so do so many others when asked to respond to just attending church, much less committing their lives to Christ. They’re that afraid their lives will be filled with punishment, judgment, discipline, and nothing else. It’s often the stock answer from people who are afraid of the plan Christ may have for them, which can scare us at first. However, make no mistake about it, they have the truth in front of them, and they have turned that truth upside-down, because being a Christian is all about having fun in life.

Webster’s defines fun as “enjoyable, with “joy” in bold.  I’m mostly favoring the word “fun,” in this message because that’s the word most often used to justify ignoring the reality of Christ. Let’s think about that word, “fun.” Doesn’t fun mean joy to us? Is graduating fun? Is your wedding fun? Are most births fun? Are we to conclude we smiled because we were miserable? I doubt most of us would respond by saying, “Actually, that was a real low point in my life.” The above are just a few of so many examples of how Christ blesses our lives. So when you think of the word “fun,” think “joy.”

            This morning, Paul tells us:

 “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” – Phil. 2:17-18 NASB

            At this point, we’re fairly certain he knows he’s going to die a painful death for his faith in Christ. How in the world does Paul move, in the same sentence, from having his life poured out like a drink offering to “rejoicing,” or having a joy he shares with the church at Philippi, a church that will likely face the same sacrifice?

            If you don’t hear anything else in this sermon, hear this:   The fun Christ offers us is very often different than what we, clutching to our own judgment, think is fun and is far, far better than anything we can invent. Let’s compare the two.

      Do we want the fun that destroys us? This is the great deception: “If we do

what we want to do, it’s the best choice we can make. Why? We do what we want because we can. People love to use the Ten Commandments to prop the decision : “Thou shalt not . . , Thou shalt not . . ., Thou shalt not . . .,”  If they commit their lives to Christ, many people think they will live a life of “Thou shalt not have fun,” feel guilty all the time, only to die to find God doesn’t exist after all. Let’s take a look a one kind of fun and see what it says about living a fun life and how that fun reflects whether God exists.

In the Creation account, for instance, Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. In short order, they do exactly that. Why? Because they want to be as God is. They think it will be more fun to be the ones really in charge of this beautiful creation instead of following someone else’s directions. As a result, God’s Creation is forever changed to a pale, however still glorious, reflection of His original intention. Adam and Eve chose their own kind of fun, culminating in original sin, and destruction followed, even though God’s perfect grace remains.

We do the same today. Drugs are a great example of that great deception. At first, it serves us, makes us feel great and provides a great escape from the world’s problems. But then that feeling dies, and we want the escape again, so we do more. There begins the vicious cycle. Now, instead of the drug serving us, we do what? That’s right - we serve the drug. And the same problems that the drug relieved at the beginning remain. The same problems are still there, only now, life is an even bigger mess. For the drug to which we’re addicted, we give it our marriage, our jobs, all our money, and possibly our lives.

The fun that destroys has commonalities (and thus warnings), though there are exceptions, they include, but are not limited to:

-          instant fun – the reward is immediate, convenient

-          easily done – misery loves company, and opportunities abound

-          destroys your world – eventually, this fun makes us slaves or simply kills us

And here’s the most frightening part – this pattern can happen with anything or any human relationship we place as more important than Christ in our hearts.

OR

Do we want the fun that makes our lives eternal? Choose a different kind of fun that also works differently, builds life, and leads to life eternal.

This Fun Is The Great Truth: Paul continues in the next chapter to our focal text:

7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  12Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

 Philippians 3:7 – 12 NASB

            Paul says “Yes” to Christ and “No” to everything else, regarding it all as rubbish, not fun or of any joy at all, in comparison. Why? “. . . that I may know Him and power of His resurrection . . “

            Remember EutychusEutychus is one of my favorite people of the New Testament. In Acts 20:9 – 12:

9And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.

 10But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life is in him."

 11When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left.

 12They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.

 

            Aside from the fact that two people actually went to sleep last I preached about Eutychus, since the young man survives, the account is funny. I can’t help but think his friends, afterward, were saying the New Testament version of, “Dude, that was sick! I saw you fall asleep, go backward out the window, and totally fall three floors, and you’re like, alive!”

It’s no coincidence that Paul breaks bread, in the traditional observance of Christ Himself, after bringing the young man back to life. What happened to Eutychus is a testimony to life over death. Christ is life. In short, the fun, or the joy, that Christ offers is Himself. And as He is resurrected, indestructible, so is the joy He brings us!

What can happen that’s worse than death? Christ defeated that. How can we not regard receiving the gift of eternal life as fun? Humanity has searched and expounded for years and years for the so-called fountain of youth, which does not exist, and humanity has dreamt of the joy they’d feel if they found it. Yet, here is real, flesh and blood, eternal life, given through Christ, who died on a cross to save us from sins, a gift we could never earn on our own, who is resurrected on the third day – the reality of the defeat of death and gift of eternal life given to all of us today if we’d only accept Christ as Lord and Savior. You can live forever – how is that not fun?  

            Now think of the poor soul who throws the late-night block party, invited to church, and he declines because he doesn’t want to miss out on “the fun.” He’s at home, hung over Sunday morning, when instead, he could be here, receiving the gift of life that will never end!  Oh sure, he would have missed out on the fun. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so sad.

            The fun that makes our lives eternal also has characteristics. These can serve as encouragement to us that what we’re doing is the right kind of fun. This fun:

-          often takes patience.

-          is difficult to do – Let’s face it, if the Ten Commandments were easy, no one would use them as an excuse to skip church.

-          builds life and makes it everlasting.

 

I know what you may be thinking, “What about pain and suffering?” Pain is Fun? Grief is Fun?  No, the fact that we can fight for ourselves and rely on God to take up the slack and get us through the other side is fun! Remember what Paul said, and he lived it, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” – Phil. 2:17-18 NASB

In regard to this passage, the great scholar William Barclay said, “To Paul, every call to suffer, to sacrifice, to toil, was a call to his love for Christ, and therefore he met every such call, not with regret and complaint, but with joy.”

Miss out on all the fun? Christ is all about fun. Okay, it’s a different kind of fun, one that takes practice, discipline, but is the best kind of fun you’ll ever have. Christ is fun, and therefore the lives of fun He wants us to live are indestructible – a joy that can never be taken from you, ever, and ever.