Monday, December 21, 2009

Joy to the World!

Throughout the year, but especially at Christmas, we Christians talk a lot about Joy. We also sing about joy, read scriptures about joy and sign and send Christmas cards adorned with the word Joy. So, what’s the big deal about Joy?

It was a verse in Luke chapter 2 that caused me to dig deeper into the concept of Joy. I was reading the part of the nativity story where the Angel of the Lord announced to the shepherds the birth of Jesus, saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

We hear it straight from the angel’s mouth…the birth of Jesus is a cause for great joy for everyone. We certainly can all agree that being released from the chains of sin in exchange for the gift of everlasting life in heaven is worthy of our joy. So, why then, as a Christian, am I not always joyful? Shouldn’t I be walking around with a silly grin all the time, in a sort of tickled-pink trance? Of course not. Life can be tough and lots of times instead of being on top of the world, we feel like we’re bearing the weight of it. What happens to joy then?

I think the Scottish minister and author, Oswald Chambers, answered that question well when he said, “The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a "happy Christian." Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays "that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves."

According to Chambers, the distinction between joy and happiness means that we can have joy even at times of deep sadness. Here’s an example…a Christian diagnosed with terminal cancer is probably not happy about his condition. Yet, he remains joyful, knowing that he is still being held in the palm of God’s hand and that his soul is heading for an eternity of bliss.

In John 16, Jesus says to his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Our joy is rooted in the last part of that statement…He has overcome the world.

Joy to the world!

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