These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
We little esteem the compliment of a fellow Christian. Perhaps we have offered a kind word, or a timely comment, or performed a small deed that elicits a spontaneous affirmation of our blessed standing in Christ. And what is the standard pious reply? “Oh, it was nothing. It certainly wasn’t me. Once in a while Christ does come through in me. Praise the Lord.” It sounds terribly humble and spiritual. And that is precisely what it is: terrible! If we say and speak that, we have just withered another blossom in the bouquet of joy Christ meant for us to delight in.
Jesus did not come from heaven in the Person of the Holy Spirit to “come through in us” once in a while … like a UPS truck that drops off a package if we are lucky. He came to dwell in us fully and to manifest that fullness as joy! When the fullness spills over into the life of another, we are to savor the mutual blessing. We say thank you from sheer civility when complimented on a new tie or a blouse. Shall we not say thank you when commended for the fruitful new life we have put on through Christ – for His glory? Until we make His joy – fully resident in our spirit – a top priority, we use His name in vain. That profanity is greater than the casual “goddamn” of the unsaved. (Part 2 of 2)
Comment: Should I start squirming because my musings on joy make me sound like a killjoy? In 1880 there were 7 Killjoy families living in Illinois. The Loveless family name was found in several foreign countries, but in 1880 the most Loveless families existed in America. If some lived in Illinois and intermarried with the Killjoy clan… Well, I let you squirm at the thought of how best to dress such a wedding party – in sackcloth, perhaps – or what to christen their children. The prophet Hosea comes to mind who had to name a son “Not my people,” and a daughter “No mercy.” In all of his book only one reference to “joy” appears in chapter 9:1, with the KJV not mincing his words, “Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people, tor thou hast gone a whoring from thy God…” A love we cannot comprehend made Him “allure in the wilderness the harlot Israel,” and Hosea renamed his children “Shown mercy” and “My people.”
Can we perhaps picture now why Jesus wants to jazz up the dull decorum of our passionless Christianity? Most likely it’s comfortable because our “Respectable Sins” (Jerry Bridges, 2017) are a far cry from brazen spiritual adultery. Alas, the secret pride intrinsic to that “category” helped drive the nails into Christ’s cross. Shouldn’t God’s love and mercy then motivate the grateful believer to acknowledge with delight the Jesus standing at our door not as Repairman, but Redeemer? Charles Wesley (1707-1788) wrote over 6,000 hymns. Several are still joyfully sung in today’s church, but here is one of my all-time favorites: “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly…” John 15