At the end of the sermon last Sunday, I encouraged you to "find your joy". What it is about your experience of Christianity and your relationship with Jesus that actually really brings you joy. I would love to hear about what your joys are - please use this link to let me know - https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1HYX6WJIUyfjbFLFAQS77asglRoko_2UeXmGDXfMBPn0/viewform?usp=send_form
Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, recently tweeted out: “Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem. May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of the God made man.”
Which brought an atheist response: “Ummm…I read this like 5 times. What in the world does it mean?!?! #Religion is #awkward.”
I think our conversation with the world as Christians around joy can be just as confusing about this conversation about Advent between the pope and this atheist. We say things like “Joy isn’t the same as happiness,” and try to claim some religio-motional high ground. We say “Find joy in your suffering” so that we can pretend like we’re joyful when we’re actually hurting or uncomfortable – like a sort of spiritualized version of Botox.
But actual joy, I think anyway, should be joyful. We should be honest about what we find our joy in. The thing is, too often we confuse the Biblical mandate to be joyful with an idolatry of joy. When we make an idol out of joy, we seek to produce fake joy in the same way that every Old Testament and New Testament idol is a fabrication out of wood or metal or stone. God isn’t interested in fabricated joy that we hang on our lives like tinsel on a Christmas tree.
This means being honest about what we don’t have joy in (yet?), and still focusing on the joy that we do have. And when we are honest about our joy, we tend to be less “#religiously awkward” and more authentically joyful, especially when we can connect the dots between our joy and the relationship we have with Jesus Christ.
So here is a little bit about my joy in being a Christian. What’s yours?
I find joy in knowing that I am partnered with the creative and free owner of the universe, and that because of what Jesus Christ did for me, I am given ownership of His freedom and my own created creativity. I find joy in find His revealing of Himself to me in every day life, and finding traces of His work throughout my days and weeks. I find joy in His expression of Himself through His Spirit in other people, just as I find joy in other people seeing His expression in me.
Find your joy.