At The Gathering we continued our ‘Spiritual Disciplines’ theme, this month having a chat and think about ‘Joy’.
Joy is one of those Christian kind of words that we don’t use much, it’s maybe lost a bit of meaning, and we’re not quite sure if it’s something that is relevant for us today.
Pete Greig says in his book ‘Dirty Glory’ that; “Pain is inevitable in life. Joy is not. Pursue joy. Laugh a lot. Listen well. Celebrate the ordinary.”
So is joy a choice? Is it a discipline and something that we need to learn to pursue as much as we might prayer? And what about when we’re just not ‘feeling it’ and life is hard?
Do we see Jesus as a person who is all about joy and celebration?
Our view of Jesus is sometimes confused by art, films, Sunday school pictures, and even by the way we read stuff Jesus said.
Jesus was invited to weddings, He was a sought after dinner guest and accused of enjoying food and drink too much. This suggests that He was fun to be around!
We read Luke 10: 17-21 and talked about how the joy felt and experienced by the disciples and Jesus differed.
Jesus’ joy was fuelled by the Holy Spirit, He was buzzing at sharing the truth that the Kingdom of God is for everyone; no one is too young, not clever enough or rich enough, no one is excluded.
Joy is also part of the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5.
Do we ask to be filled with joy as much as we do love, peace, or anything else? What would it mean or look like for us in our day to day lives to be a person who is filled with Holy Spirit inspired joy?
Sometimes joy is one of those words that sounds a bit faffy and wishy washy! But have a read of Nehemiah 8:10 (and the verses around it) – joy and strength are part of the same deal here. Joy is gritty and determined choice, not just a fixed grin and claim that ‘everything’s OK’.
Here’s something from Richard Foster and his book ‘Celebration of Discipline’...
“The joy of the Lord is not merely a good feeling. It is acquainted with suffering and sorrow, heartache and pain. It is not found by seeking it. It does not come by trying to pump up the right emotion, or by having a cheery disposition, or by attempting to be an optimist.
Joy is the result of provision, place and personality functioning properly in the course of our daily lives. It comes as a result of the abundant life Jesus promised having taken over the ingrained habit patterns of our lives. It slips in unawares as our attention is focused upon the Kingdom of God.”
Have a read and think on all this, have a look at the Bible stuff, have a chat with God about it – and let us know where you go with it!
And if you’re feeling brave, give this a go?!
Parents laugh when they see their children do funny things. Ask God what makes Him laugh about you. Enjoy it, write it down, come back to it when you need a reminder that God enjoys you, and has a great sense of humour...