Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
If one of our main tasks as a church is to make disciples, I suggest that one of the effective means by which God does this is by the joy evident in the lives of Christ’s people. Paul listed joy as one of the fruits of the Spirit. The call to rejoice comes through the New Testament something like seventy times. From John 15:11 we hear Christ’s desire for his joy to be in us and for that joy to be complete, and in Matthew 13:44 we hear Jesus say that the joy of living each day within God’s realm is worth getting rid of everything else to have it. Do we come across as a particularly joyous people or do we cling to our grumbles and grouches? Are we too preoccupied with declining numbers to see where God is creating, healing, challenging, renewing lives today? Are we immobilized by fear of what people might say, by fear of failure, by fear of rejection, by fear of change? Are we overwhelmed by what we call the state of the world, news items telling of terrible things going on in the world? Have we simply adopted a defeatist attitude? People everywhere are seeking happiness for themselves and their children: “I just want him/her to be happy”. In Christ, by God’s Spirit, there is a joy that goes beyond superficial happiness: joy in the very depths of our souls. Have we experienced, amid all the pleasures of life, this depth of joy: the joy that remains whatever our circumstances, the joy that goes beyond youthful exuberance, the joy that is linked to assurance, contentment and peace with God? A joy that is not dependent upon success? Let’s pray for true joy to be evident in our congregational life and in our own individual lives.
- What are some of the ways people try to get happiness for themselves and their loved ones?
- How is it that joy in Christ and sorrow at the state of the world can both be part of a Christian’s life?
- Are we too staid and inhibited in our churches to let the joy of Christ shine through?
- How does joy manifest itself in the life of a Christian?