A QUESTION: Why is there often so little joy among Christians?
- Luke 1:14.
- This verse highlights the joy that John will bring: “a joy,” “delight,” “rejoice.”
- Is that atypical? Is joy supposed to be a standard part of the Christian life?
- I believe that it is. Just to cite three examples:
a. Jesus wants His joy to be in us.
- John 15:11.
b. Jesus wants our joy to be full.
- John 15:11.
c. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
- Galatians 5:22.
HOW WE SEE SALVATION: Do we see it as obligation or opportunity?
- We have too many “prune juice Christians.”
- Believers who look like they had a double helping of prune juice for breakfast this morning.
- Example: I go to our Association Executive Committee meetings. Everyone there is very nice and easy to work with, but I go there because it’s an obligation. I’m one of the pastors and expected to participate, so I go. There’s no joy, just duty and obligation.
- Our messages about salvation are often more about guilt than rescue.
- Yes, guilt is a part of it. We are guilty and need to be cleansed.
- What I mean by that is this: too many approach salvation with the thought “well, I feel bad for not going to church.” It’s a guilt over knowing that God should be a part of their lives and He’s not. We approach God out of a sense of obligation and duty.
- Instead, the idea of rescue should be more paramount: we’ve been rescued from the disastrous mess our sin has created. That’s something that gives us joy: we’ve been rescued! I’m not grabbing onto God out of obligation or duty, but in thanksgiving for the hand He’s giving me to get me out of the mess I’m in.
- Our messages about salvation are often more about duty than opportunity.
- Same thought: we’re doing this because we have to (“it’s our duty”) rather than being overwhelmed by the opportunity that’s been presented.
- We think of it more as “file your taxes” than “pulled from a burning building.”
- We think of it more as “eat your broccoli” than “work with the best mentor.”
- There is a natural, typical, downhill slide from joy to duty.
- It’s an easy trip to make. In fact, we have to actively fight it if we want to avoid that joyless journey.
REASONS FOR JOY:
1. RESCUED FROM SIN.
- We were in sin. Trapped by our own actions.
- We had no way out. Imprisoned by our behavior.
- And we were rescued. Christ came and rescued us.
- At the cross, He opened up the door for forgiveness.
- That’s not something that should be taken as a “well, if I have to. . .” thing. It should be seen as an incredible gift.
2. CHANGED FOR VICTORY.
- Not only were we forgiven and set free from our sin, we were changed.
- We were given a new heart. We were made into a new creation.
- That new heart makes us capable of living the victorious life. It makes us capable of living all that God has opened up to us. We can live out victory in Jesus!
3. EMPOWERED FOR IMPACT.
- He has also given us the Holy Spirit, including the spiritual gifts that He gives us, that we might have an impact in this life.
- We have been prepared to bear much fruit. God wants our lives to make a difference for Him.
A FINAL THOUGHT: Do we need to do things differently or see things differently?
- It could be we’re not experiencing the fullness of Christ or it could be we’re not adequately appreciating what we’ve already been given.
a. Do things differently.
- Some of us are not availing ourselves of what God is offering us. We need to do things differently, to begin to use the resources that He’s offered.
b. See things differently.
- Some of us simply need to appreciate more of what we’ve already got.
- Example: complaining there’s nothing to eat vs. coming into that same kitchen overwhelmed by the abundance that we enjoy in this country. In both cases there is the same amount of food in the kitchen – the difference is in what we perceive.