Last time, I told you I’d be writing about “Joy” in this post, but little did I realize how much there is to write about this uniquely Christian word. I call it a Christian word, right or wrong, because it’s a word that I don’t find addressed much in any real way in the secular world, not by atheists, cultural elites, or all those people who seem to think it’s okay to tell me how to live and what to say, but can’t stand it when I have the nerve to smile at them, and simply say, “NO.”
To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot of people who live with a sense of joy, and, sad to say, this includes many people who call themselves Christians. I can see and hear the protests right now, but don’t try to tell me that every Christian you know lives with joy because we all know at least one whose face would break into shards of glass were they to smile. You know it’s true and so do I. 🙂
To me, there’s nothing sadder or more depressing than to be around someone who says they love Christ Jesus, and that He’s living in their heart, and yet, all you hear from the minute they start talking is all about their latest illness, ache, and pain. Their discontent and unhappiness about this or that person, place, event, or idea. Complaint about any and everything seems to be all they can talk about . . . even in church.
As an aside, I’ll tell you the easiest way to dissuade these people from trying to ruin your worship and the awesome experience of honoring and glorifying Jesus Christ is to wear them out, gently, by responding positively to every negative thing they say. For example:
(I’ll call this woman, Gertrude, or if it’s a man, I’ll call him, Herman. These are examples, folks, so please don’t take offense at my using a set of names that just came to me as I’m writing this.)
Gertrude: “I’ve been so sick this last week I just knew I was going to die (or something to that effect).”
You: “Praise the Lord He pulled you through. Isn’t it wonderful how God can pull us through the worst of times, and look at how nice you look. It truly is a time to be thankful to God, isn’t it?”
And so it goes . . . The point being people who want to complain want someone who’s going to listen to their complaint, not someone who’s going to force them into thinking about how grateful they should be. I’m not talking about the person who genuinely just needs to talk, but to those who are the habitual offenders. The ones who constantly and consistently complain no matter what. Call me mean, nasty, deceitful or a thousand other names, but when I go to church I want to worship God. I want to honor and glorify Him, and isn’t that the reason why we’re going?
Now what has this to do with “Joy” you might be asking, and the answer is that “Joy” should be the expression of your heart to God for all that He is, and for all that He does in bestowing His many, many blessings upon us. “Joy” is a far different thing than being happy because “Joy” is “in spite of” (Don’t ask me where I got that because I can’t remember, but I freely admit it’s not an original thought of mine. I’ve read it somewhere before.) It means that you choose “in spite of” rather than, “because of” and that’s a much greater thing, and I believe reveals something to the world and those around you that needs to be seen.
“Joy” is what the world needs to see, and what it should see when looking at the Christian life, and why shouldn’t they? We have the most wonderful reason to be joyful, and to rejoice. We have Jesus Christ. We have the power of God living inside us, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life. If that’s not enough to give us “Joy” on a daily basis, and the desire to share that “Joy” with everyone we meet, then I have to wonder what it is that’s going on in your life that you don’t feel and live with that sense of “Joy” in living your life in Christ.
Even in the midst of much sorrow, suffering, and tribulation, Paul never failed to live with “Joy” because he had what the Holy Spirit has given to each of us, but which we seldom acknowledge and seek to live out. The inner-knowledge, and hope that springs eternally in being able to see beyond the moment we’re living in, and see and experience the glory we’ll share in living our lives forever with Him.
“The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once scornfully said of Christians of his day, “I would believe in their salvation if they looked a little more like people who have been saved. (The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 215.)” There’s a lot of truth in that, I believe, and sad, as I am to say it, I think the reason there aren’t more Christians is simply because of Christians who don’t live out their lives in a tangible and experiential way. I believe another quote by Philip Brooks addresses this when he says, “The religion that makes a man look sick certainly won’t cure the world. (The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 216.)” Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not knocking Christianity, but rather our display of it, and our living it in front of other people. Too many Christians are exhibiting the symptoms of hopelessness and despair and this brings me back to the issue of “Joy.”
Do you have “Joy?” Are you experiencing the healing that comes from living joyfully? Are you finding the strength, feeling the peace, that comes from knowing that the Holy Spirit gives knowing that your life is in Christ?
Well, I’ve said enough for the time being, but I’ll leave you with this last quote, and it’s one I’d like you to give some thought to.
“Joy is not a luxury or mere accessory in the Christian life. It is the sign that we are really living in God’s wonderful love, and that love satisfies us ((The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck, P. 216.)”
My question to you is does it?