Having preached through all of our 6 values, I think I’ve been most struck with this one about joy. We value finding joy in the journey, but the reality is that for many of us joy is often elusive. What can we learn and how can we experience more joy in our own journeys?
The Bible talks an awful lot about joy, and describes many sources of joy: good news, harmonious families, justice, wisdom, the presence of God, and much else. There’s also a deeper level in which we seem to be encouraged to carry joy with us even when our circumstances seem against us.
Joy: The Gift
In Romans 15, we see that that real joy is a gift from God. Paul was following Jesus, praying confidently for the church, that Jew and Gentile alike would be filled with joy and peace. Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus have had some bitter disagreements
and strained relationships over the years. Paul was at pains to have them accept one another, just as Christ accepted them both. He was imploring them to follow Jesus’ example. And Paul knew that the way they would be transformed in their relationships with each other was by this experience of the God of hope, filling them with joy and peace, by the power of the Holy Spirit. There may be lessons from that today where relationships are strained. God wants joy for us, He is prepared to give it, and it makes a huge difference, not only to us personally and individually, but corporately – it overflows to others.
Joy: The Choice
So joy is a gift from God that we seek after. And yet the other side of the coin is that joy is also something we choose. We see both Jesus (e.g. Luke 10) and Paul (e.g. Phil. 4) telling us to choose to rejoice, and especially to rejoice in the Lord and in what He’s done for us. Sometimes, we can’t help it – the joy just bubbles us, but sometimes it requires an active decision from us.
Joy: Sharing Life
The disciples experienced their biggest joy, described in Luke 10, when they were out sharing life with their communities, according to the strategy Jesus had given them, and because it was appropriate and sensitive to their context, it was working. And when Paul reflected on joy in 1 Thess. 2:17-19, he recognised that it was the people themselves with whom he had been able to share life that were his joy.
So, receive the gift, make the choice, share life, and I pray that we will all find more and more joy in the journey.
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