Rejoice in the Cubs Always: Philippians 4:1-9
As a life-long Atlanta Braves fan, I have been always attracted to the allure, the ivy, the voice of Harry Carey and mystique of watching the Chicago Cubs in their beautiful ball park known as the "friendly confines". After a one hundred and eight year drought of not winning a World Series championship the Cubs can now feast on the glass being shattered of this Shakespearian tragedy. Despite this reality of waiting, the Chicago Cubs are commonly known as the most passionate, supportive fans not only in baseball but in all of sports.
In Paul's letter to the Christians of Philippi like Cub fans he is encouraging those who are tired of the outcomes and almost waiting for the doom to persist because the Lord is near (Philippians 4:4). Instead the Apostle Paul says simply "Rejoice in the Lord" Always. That's a great gift, even when your team is losing and you are waiting for a hundred and eight year drought to end. It's a great gift when you are struggling in school, or feeling miserable at work, or failing at marriage, or dealing with deep anxiety and depression. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul challenges us to place our focus on the peace of God, rather than on wins and losses. Too often we look at the church as though it were a baseball team -- or, in this season of presidential politics, a political candidate -- and we spend time and energy debating who's going to win and who's going to lose. We wonder: Who's in? Who's out? Who's on top? Who's on bottom? It's hard to resist this temptation, especially now -- with the World Series ended and we are in the midst of a very close Presidential election less than a week away.
Notice that Paul has no interest in taking sides when he gives the Philippians their game plan for Christian living. "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8). He wants them to focus on whatever is true and honorable and just -- whether it comes from the Left Wing or the Right Wing. He wants them to celebrate whatever is pure and pleasing and commendable -- whether it wins contests or not. He wants them to rejoice in whatever is excellent and worthy of praise -- just like Cubs fans, who have rejoiced in their players through over a century of broken dreams. He wants them to "stand firm in the Lord" (v. 1) -- not in a particular political party. So as an avid baseball fan, I rejoice today more than ever for the Cubs but am reminded that the role of an enthusiast for Jesus as Harry Carey in a seventh inning stretch, or being with the bleacher bums or consuming a Budweiser is to rejoice always.
World Championships, presidential elections and other worldly prizes are fine and dandy but in the great scheme of things have no real significance for the Savior who emptied himself, humbled himself "and become obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross" (2:8). The God of peace will be with us, whether we win, lose or have to wait another hundred and eight years for a World Championship. Not if we rejoice in the Lord, always