by Peter Swann
There is no question that all of us are after joy. It’s the reason we take medicine, buy cars, visit restaurants, and go to games. It’s joy from the alleviation of suffering or joy from the distraction of general stress. It’s joy from feeling that we’ve accomplished something or joy from feeling we’re worth something. The pursuit of joy continually drives us.
But most Americans wouldn’t associate religion with joy. And sadly, many Christians wouldn’t either. There’s a long-standing feeling that following Christ is like beating ourselves into line – a sort of forced following rather than joy-filled relationship.
But when Christ Himself is greater than any medicine or car or restaurant or game, there is an indescribable joy to be had that can’t be found elsewhere. When Christians talk about joy, it should be joy like none other.
What’s more, the Scriptures extol this pursuit of joy. Philippians 4:4 says to “rejoice in the Lord always” and Psalm 16:11 states that in God’s presence there is “fullness of joy.” These are incredible words to utter, indicating the accessibility of real joy. So we don’t we rejoice? What keeps us from true joy? Here are some things to consider:
1. This world appears too beautiful.
As much as we may theologically believe that God is more glorious and beautiful than anything in this world, we still find ourselves mesmerized by what’s in front of us. One solution: spending more time with God than we do with the allures of this world. Intimacy with God grows joy with God.
2. We don’t trust the Scriptures.
The Scriptures are clear on the path to joy, but it grates against the contours of this fallen world. Do we truly, deeply trust that “fullness of joy” is found in God? We might suggest that our actions tend to convey how much we believe that principle is true.
3. We’ve never learned to enjoy God.
Tragically, many of us have a warped view of God, defined more by practical experience than by Scriptural truth. We don’t know God as one who can be enjoyed and we’ve never learned to rejoice in Him. This is a new day, an invitation to an incredible journey. The enjoyment of God radically reshapes our walk with Him.
If we walked out on the streets of our city today and asked people what they would do to have “fullness of joy,” they’d go to any lengths. There would be no limit in that pursuit. Yet God has given us the path to follow. Fullness of joy is found in Him.
So let’s be different than our world. Let’s focus on God Himself. It’s time for joy. It’s time to rejoice.