“ These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
Growing up I remember the image of Christians as being stern, forgoing fun for the sake of their beliefs. I grew up with the rebellion of Footloose and other such movies where the antagonist was a misguided person of God morosely forbidding the young people in their charge anything that might be deemed fun. The visage of the person was typically wrinkled with worry, the storylines filled with stressed conflict. In the manner of Hollywood, the freedom to find happiness by rejecting the strictures of God’s leader triumphed, God’s leader recognized the error of their uncompromising adherence to His rules, and everyone lived happily ever after.
As an adult I have come to see things a bit differently than the rosy pictures of glorious freedom to partake in the pleasures of the flesh painted by so many when I was growing up. I look at the people of my generation and the generations that followed and see hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions mired in a never ending quest for happiness. They seek it in drugs, sex, money, thrill seeking and all manner of other behavior. It never quite satisfies, and the pursuit grows ever more strident, ever more risky, and ultimately ever more devastating to their lives.
I have seen a different picture than the wrinkled, worried, stressed out antagonists as well. The Christians I have known over the years who are mature in their faith do indeed reject the world’s urgings to reject God’s rules. Instead, they embrace the commands of Christ wholeheartedly, seeking daily to draw closer to Him and conform their behavior to His commands. In the eyes of the world, they are a bit strange sometimes, perhaps even foolish. But, they have found what the others seek.
Those still pursuing the world force laughter at what the world thinks is funny, though it makes them cringe inside. They hide desperation and sorrow behind a cool mask of cynicism, cruelty, or just an air of perfection in their lives. Christians on the other hand laugh from the heart, and often from the belly, usually several times a day. They cry when there is sorrow, lift praises when there’s trouble, and know that perfection is beyond their ability, but it is not beyond their God’s. Where others hum with anxiety, depression, and rage, the Christian bubbles with the fullness of the joy Christ offers them.
Are you feeling His joy today? If not, spend some time in His presence, lay your burdens at His feet, and renew your ties to Him. Let go of the things the world is telling you to chase, they are stealing your joy. If you are, let it bubble forth, spilling onto all those you meet so that they can see the joy of Christ in you. Be blessed and be a blessing.
Father, thank you so much for Your joy in our lives. It is so easy to become distracted from Your commands as we walk through the world around us. Please help us to hold Your joy close in our hearts, to let go of the things that take us from Your presence and to share the only true joy available in the world through the message of Your Son, in whose name we pray, Amen.