“Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Every day our noses are rubbed in the calamaties and arguments playing out on the world stage. Closer to home the brittle conflicts in our own society are driving people farther apart as the melting pot boils over in rancor and mistrust. Our personal lives struggle with faltering financial assumptions and the pressures and stressses of a too rapidly changing, even chaotic life. The current state of affairs brings forth a question; dare we be joyful?
I am not referring here to those experiences or possessions with which we temporarily maroon ourselves from the world and its’ troubles; happiness, pleasures, having fun or good times. These, after all, are not synonymous with joy. The use of joy within the Christian family is something different.
When the Scriptures refer to joy it is always to be understood in relation to God. But are we speaking here of an invitation to or an imperative to enter a kind of monastic life where we may escape the seething, hurting world, and have a life of meditation and prayer with God where we achieve a kind of inner tranquility and joy? Is that what our Lord wants?
The book of Hebrews points to Jesus, “…the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” The motif or context of the crucifixion was in a joy that was held for Him.
Writing from his imprisonment in Rome, St. Paul encouraged the Philippian congregation to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” so that there must be on the part of God a hope, an invitation, even a command to be joyful in the fact that he has come to us in Christ Jesus.
The joy of the Christian is in God Himself. St. Paul could write joyfully from his imprisonment because his consciousness of the Lord was greater than his self-consciousness. He would not treat his sufferings as if they were greater than His Lord.
Yes, the Christian may dare to have joy. Not because life is easy and everything is coming up roses but because our Lord is with us. By His cross and resurrection He has reconciled us to God, the source of true joy and our everlasting hope.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”