Curt addressed anxiety, conflict, and the peace of the Lord from Philippians 4:2-8, an oft-quoted passage of Scripture written by the apostle Paul. What I love about this passage is that it begins by addressing the conflict that two women were having in the early church at Philippi: "I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."
After addressing this conflict, Paul launches into a passage that highlights one of the most common temptations for women: anxiety due to relational conflict. Paul's antidote to conflict and anxiety is what Curt calls the trump card: "The Lord is at hand" (v. 6). As Curt explains, the "trump card" of the promise of the Lord's return is the motivating factor for the list of responsibilities we see laid out for the Philippians. The Lord is at hand means that the Lord is near. It's Paul's shorthand for the return of Jesus:
Everything in Paul's theology hinges on the fact that Jesus is returning. Yes, He came. Yes, He resurrected. But that is not where the good news ends. The good news ends with the fact that He is returning and so Paul is using that as a motivation in this context, in this argument between Euodia and Syntyche to remind them of what is most important. And it is obviously not who's wrong and who's right. The Lord is coming back. And Paul wants to remind them of this right in the middle of a conflict. ... It's not that God doesn't care that we've been offended. It's just that God cares more that He hung suspended--for the very conflict, the very circumstances that we have. ... Rejoicing is more than just happiness. It is a pursued mentality. It's something that we pursue. Happiness is only a response of excitement to some event.
In this passage, we find that Paul shows us what this "pursued mentality" looks like: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (v. 4-7). But as Curt points out, what seems easy to do is actually quite hard:
The very challenge to rejoicing is anxiety. Look at verse six: Do not be anxious. That's a funny statement. Think about this for a second. Paul is saying, do not be anxious, right? Paul says do not be anxious, as if it's a choice. He says, do not be anxious as if it's as easy as me turning off this microphone at the click of a button. But you and I both know that it never feels like a choice when you are anxious, right? It never feels like a choice. When the situation happens, and you can't figure out what's going on. And you can't solve the issue, and you don't trust that God can solve the issue, and you're anxious. ... If anxiety keeps you from rejoicing, then you're choosing to submit to anxiety more than rejoicing in the Lord. ... No one chooses to be anxious, but we do choose to stay anxious.
How do you know what this choice looks like? This passage answers that question. If your anxiety prevents you from praying, thanking, and asking God, then you are choosing to submit to it more than submitting to God.
This sermon is definitely worth 45 minutes of your time. You can listen to it here. Oh, and if you'd like to read a short article about how Curt had to put his own teaching to the test, Boundless has an article about how Curt dealt with blog criticism of his music.
P.S. Thanks for your patience with my non-blogging on this site. Writing a book drains my brain! But you can keep up with my short attention span if you follow my Facebook page. Or, just enjoy the sound of crickets here from time to time.