Joy is an amazing quality.
It’s one of the qualities that has somehow not really been truly explored in my Christian experience. Sure biggies like love and peace have come up. Grace has also been a pressing issue of late in how I engage with others. Yet joy has seemed to miss a lot of attention.
Rejoicing – which has joy at the heart of it – has tended to be more about shouting to God and getting excitable and from there carrying on with some ‘charismatic’ expressions. That might have its place, but I’m growing to understand there’s a lot more to joy than that. Sure joy is something that should be expressed verbally and the like. Yet that’s not all there is to joy. Plus when we read the joy of the Lord is our strength that’s not purely an exercise in the decibel levels you can reach in letting God know that.
(Sidebar: Sometimes when such exuberant and boisterous expressions are released I often think of Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal and how the hundreds of prophets crying and wailing and making a whole heap of noise for no return. Sometimes for all the wailing and noise-making that goes on in some settings I wonder if the only outcome is a sore throat, a headache and a convenient lack of remembering what it was that caused that. As I said I don’t dismiss the real benefit of shouting to God. I merely wonder who we’re doing it for and with what desired outcome.)
Then I read episode after episode where folks like Paul talk about their joy being complete. I often wonder what that’s all about. What is remarkable about these sayings is how intrinsically joy is as not just a personal internal quality, but how relational it is. Joy is not just about a good, warm feeling I have inside. It’s about how the lives, developments and closer walks with Christ others experience produce something in me that deepens my own connection with the God of joy.
It’s that joy I read of when God looks at the completed creation and sees it as very good. It’s that joy I read of when God looks at the obedience of His Son and declares to those with ears to hear this is His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. It’s that joy of seeing someone grasp the reality of Jesus is and live that out. That’s the sense of complete joy I see when I consider the relational aspect of joy. It’s not something to be hidden – it’s something to be shared.
It reminds me of so many occasions I have had to witness dear brothers and sisters of the faith grab a hold of some eternal truth that they had not connected with before. To see them get it and then see how their lives are adjusted as a result, that’s a glorious feeling. It’s why I love sharing my own journey of faith with some brothers and sisters just to let them know that their pryaers are being answered and despite the issues of life, steps are being taken in the right direction that allows the character of Christ to be seen in me.
There is the key though – Jesus is seen, the glory of God is displayed and the natural response to that is joy. Jesus seen in and through others – helping them endure, stimulating them to serve, causing them to accept forgiveness, sparking their growth in grace – that makes our own joy complete.
That is certainly worth shouting about.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden