Anxiety is a growing problem in modern Britain. In 2013, 8.2 million people were diagnosed with some sort of serious anxiety problem. In any given week in England, 4.4% of the population experiences anxiety that is serious enough to seek professional help.
If you look at the world around us, there is lots that’s not right. There’s a great deal of unhappiness in the world. A great deal of aggression. And in increasing amount of anxiety.
This morning, we’re going to be talking about joy.
I don’t know whether the thought of talking about joy fills you with joy, or not!
We are at the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. For a while, we worked our way through this letter, during our quarterly combined services. We had a break last year for our Bible tour, and we’ve done other things so far this year. But it’s time to return to the letter, so we don’t miss the closing sections.
As Paul wraps up, he gives the Philippians some general instructions that he wants to leave them with.
One character trait it’s easy to be frustrated by is laziness.
People can be lazy for all kinds of reasons. Not just those who are poor. Not just those who are rich. We can all be lazy. Those who have a lot can be lazy. They don’t need to work hard. Their life is already just the way they want it. Those who don’t have much can be lazy. They could improve their lot in life. But they can’t be bothered.
Anyone who’s ever applied for a job knows all about making a CV. Curriculum Vitae. The story of my life. You set out your credentials. Why should this employer like you? Birth. Education. Work history. Other interests. Sell yourself.
What would you put on your spiritual CV? If you had two sides of A4 to list your spiritual credentials, what goes on? Imagine they’re handing out the accommodation and the jobs in glory – as you’re waiting in the queue, what would go on your papers?
Last week, a friend of mine who lives in central London posted some advice on his Twitter account: If you see someone in London looking confused at a map, offer to help them. It is, he suggested, not rocket science, but basic etiquette with being a host city for the Olympics.
Not rocket science. It seems so obvious. And yet it needs to be said, because it’s not a very London way to live. London is very much a city in which it’s each man and woman for himself. Sadly, such basic etiquette does need to be said.
“What’s the catch?” That’s one question I ask myself often when someone offers to give something that seems too good to be true.
Sadly, many people today don’t ask that question about the Christian faith because they think that being a Christian is the catch. Instead of saying “what’s the catch”, they ask “what’s good about that?”
Living with uncertainty is hard, is it not?
And we have a lot of uncertainty in our lives at the moment. Inflation is heading towards 5 %; unemployment is rising; oil prices are crazy, and VAT has just put up the price of almost everything. There’s a lot we don’t know about the future – our own personal future, or what the country will look like for the next 5 years. And it’s hard living with uncertainty.
Priorities are hard things aren’t they.
Like choosing a pudding. Do you like cheesecake? Yes. Do you like sticky toffee pudding? Yes. Do you like rhubarb crumble? Yes. Do you like chocolate mousse? Yes. You can’t eat 4 puddings. You wouldn’t manage to eat them all without being sick. You would get high cholesterol if you ate four puddings every day. You have to choose. Which one do you want? Cheesecake. Sticky Toffee. Rhubarb Crumble. Chocolate Mousse. You may have only one. Ah. Much harder.