President Labberton: Be Shining Stars, Not Whining Stars

Mark Labberton’s message at the Christmas All-Seminary Chapel

Christmas Chapel

The last All-Seminary Chapel of the fall quarter concluded with a special Christmas Chapel on December 4, 2013 that wrapped up two weeks of fasting and reflections on advent and the coming of Christ.

(Go here to read/watch Advent Chapel 1 and 2)

Preaching from Philippians 2:12-18, President Mark Labberton explained to the Fuller community that in chapter two of his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul notes that yes, God exalted Christ after the resurrection and has given him the name above every name that all the earth should bow down and worship him, but now there is work to be done.

"Get on with the task that you've actually been given," Labberton said. "Because Jesus reigns, therefore, now, work all the more. He's made possible what you're actually created for."

Labberton noted that as the community works on having the mind of Christ and discerning what is best, each person needs to determine what is his or her pathway to walking in that light. People need to define themselves not by their circumstances or personalities, but by the reality of what God has done in Christ then get on with the life they are called to live, he said.

What Paul determines next, Labberton said, is that believers need to live in the world as shining lights, not whining lights. "Do all things without murmuring and arguing," Paul wrote in verse 14. Labberton admitted that whining is an attractive activity, but is not the way to go. It doesn't mean that people shouldn't tell the truth about the dissension and hardship of life, but it means to choose not to go down the whining path.

"It's not a denial of the challenges. It's living in the challenges in a different way," Labberton said, adding that this is the practice of having the mind of Christ and avoiding the small traps of self-interest and small vision.

To shine like stars is to reframe life, truth, and suffering, and live a transformed life. It is not "pasting stars on the surface of our life," Labberton said. "Let the light of Christ so grow in you, so without grumbling you shine with a different quality of life than is available in a world of darkness."

That is the great challenge Paul is presenting, Labberton said. It's not enough to say that Jesus has done it all. Now it's time to get on with the work.

"Turns out it's not enough to be inaugurated president, I'm supposed to be president!" Labberton joked. Similarly, it's not enough to say one belongs to Christ. They must be like Christ.

"We are people called now, in light of Jesus being Lord, to live in a different way with Jesus as Lord. That's what invites us into the light," Labberton concluded. "If we get caught in the small mumbling, grumbling life, we fail to be lights in the world in the way we're actually created and deemed and commissioned to be."

Chapel closed with a time of communion, the singing of "Joy to the World," and a time of fellowship for the students, faculty, and staff members.

Chapel will resume on January 8, 2014 when the winter quarter begins. In the New Year, President Mark Labberton will be holding a time of conversation with students following the chapels he preaches on the first Wednesday of each month.

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