Summary: What is joy? True joy is based on God, but what exactly do we mean we say that?
(The Joy of the Lord is My Strength.)
The last couple of weeks we have been talking about the Movie Narnia.
This weekend Friday and Saturday it had already grossed almost 68 million dollars. That is better than the first two LOTR movies did their first weekend. I heard a report the other day that the trend in Hollywood to have a successful film is to make children’s movies or family friendly films. Of course Hollywood and most of the elite media who practically despise the idea of Jesus being anything other than a prophet/teacher scratch their heads in wonder over this fact. I believe it is because there is so little positive in the world today people need a break from “reality.” We have the Biggest loser, Super nanny, Survivor, Super date, Fear factor, you name it and they have a reality T.V show for it. I don’t know about you, but I have enough reality in my own life without watching someone else’s reality. I have an idea for a reality show. What about a reality show that follows an average Christian around and watches their reality…Hmmm maybe not.
The truth is our reality is not any different than the reality of someone who is not in church. We still have sickness, we still have financial problems, and we still have our idiosyncrasies and dysfunctional families. Many people have identified the only difference between Christians and non Christians is that Christians are forgiven. I disagree. Christians are forgiven. But that’s not the only difference. An argument can be made on the Wesleyan side of things that if someone has never heard the word of God, or had the opportunity to confess his/her sins that they are forgiven also. Grace covers their sins. A Child even though innocent in our eyes has not accepted Jesus as its savior, yet it is forgiven. The fact that we are forgiven is not enough of a distinction. Another reason it is not a good distinction is that it teaches that sin is inevitable. For those of us who know right from wrong sin is a choice.
Tonight I want to talk about Joy in Jesus. Joy is one of those words that are difficult to define. Q quick search of an online dictionary defines joy as an emotion: rejoice: feel happiness or joy.
• the emotion of great happiness
• something or someone that provides pleasure; a source of happiness; "a joy to behold"; "the pleasure of his company"; "the new car is a delight"
• gladden: make glad or happy
This morning’s sermon “Ten Tasty Things About Turkish Delight” used Turkish delight as a metaphor for sin. We learned that sin eventually leads to death. Death will definitely still your joy. But death is not the immediate consequence of sin. But before we get too far into that lets look some more at joy.
So what is Joy? We have defined it as emotion from the world’s point of view, but what is it to a Christian? If joy is as the world defines it a high form of happiness and thing/toys make us happy then when we get a new car that car brings us joy.-Right? Maybe Joy for someone else is getting their own way. The Bible tells us that selfishness is a sin. Can sin be joyful? Using this definition of sin the answer is yes.
Edmund had joy when he tasted the Turkish delight. In fact one of Miriam-Webster’s definitions of joy is delight. So Edmund literally tasted JOY. Yet for Edmund it was sin. The Turkish delight was not sinful. However for Edmund it represented compromise with evil therefore it was sin.
Edmund had seen enough of this witch to know she was not a good person. He knew when the witch offered him the Turkish delight it would come with a cost. There were strings attached.
Considering joy from this perspective I’m not satisfied with the definition of Joy as high state of emotion stemming from success, great satisfaction, etc. Let’s explore it from God’s perspective.
Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi says more about joy than any other New Testament book. Even though Paul is under arrest and in chains, he rejoices because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He writes to thank the Philippian Christians for the help they gave him and to encourage them to face their own trials with "joy in Christ Jesus." What in the world is Paul talking about? What is delightful about facing trials? Is there anyone in here that is delighted when they face trials? I’m not. I do not experience happiness when times are difficult. When one has just found out he/she has terminal cancer I doubt he/she is delighted. Yet Paul specifically tells them to face their own trials with "joy in Christ Jesus." Therefore Paul must not be talking about the same joy as defined by Meriam-Webster.