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Jesus: Our Everlasting


Joy: Life with Him is the Joy of All Joys

Saturday, December 23 | Dr. Michael Whiting

Today's Reading

John 15:1-11

Where does our world promise that joy will be found? Is it in having great wealth? A fulfilling career? Human relationships?

All these things certainly might bring a limited amount of joy, but these are also joys that we can lose through our own blame or through circumstances beyond our control in a fallen world. Indeed, these incomplete, temporary, and imperfect joys should reveal a deeper hunger in us for a Joy above all joys that is absolute and enduring.

In Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Lewis speaks of earthly joys and pleasures as intimating the existence of a more profound joy in relationship with a Person – the Giver:

This heavenly fruit is instantly redolent of the orchard where it grew. This sweet air whispers of the country from whence it blows. It is a message. We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore. There need be no question of thanks or praise as a separate event, something done afterwards. To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore.

Gratitude exclaims, very properly, 'How good of God to give me this.' Adoration says, 'What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!' One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.

Jesus promised His disciples a more absolute joy that does not originate from any mere created thing, not even from human relationships as wonderful as they can be. He offered a joy that could even weather suffering. The joy He spoke of was in Him, especially in the joy of union with His life in obedience and fellowship with the Father.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

The world seduces our thirst for joy to take the good things God has given us and to transgress the boundaries of their righteous use and turn them idolatrously into ends in themselves. We know how already our Christmas season has become distracted by commercialized consumption. Not only that, but our secular culture sells the lie today that joy can be found in pursuing your own desires and living freely in whatever way you choose is best.

Through life with Jesus, we can know the truest joy, which is not found in idolatrous freedom, but in union with the mind and heart of God.

The coming of Jesus is the promise that this misuse of our lives and our misguided pursuit of joy as sinners can be forgiven by God's mercy and that through life with Jesus, we can know the truest joy, which is not found in idolatrous freedom, but in union with the mind and heart of God. There is joy in following the will of God and joy in living for others (John 15:14-17), and this joy can even be known amid sacrifice and suffering for the glory of God, for truth, and for righteousness (John 15:18-20). It is the joy and pleasure of knowing that we are in union with the way that we were designed and now redeemed to live, and we experience the pleasure of God through the Spirit.

As Christmas Day draws near, as the presents are unwrapped and the feasting ensues, remember that these passing joys are temporary and are not the joy which is to know Jesus Christ, abiding in His love, and following His way of obedient joy to the life-giving commandments of God.

Dr. Michael Whiting serves as Associate Professor of Christian History and Leadership and Director of Written Content at Dallas Baptist University.

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