Today, in a world of seemingly hopeless darkness, how do Christians live to be the “light and salt” as Jesus commanded? When going through trials, do I wallow in self- pity? Do I grumble in the face of life’s challenges? When people are in despair, how do I bring hope to them? Am I apathetic to the sufferings of my neighbor?
Light is associated with joy. During Christmas, people decorate and celebrate with lights. When I see the lights on the trees, on the buildings, along the streets, at home, in church and at work, I feel happy. I’m overwhelmed with a light mood.
I celebrate the love of God giving His only begotten Son to us – the story of Christmas. I wonder at the love of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins – the story of Lent. I rejoice in the victory of Jesus over death, rising from the grave – the story of Easter.
To be an authentic Christian is to celebrate the gift of life with a grateful and joyful heart. This celebration comes not from a trouble-free life!
Lewis Smedes was “seized with a frenzy of gratitude. Possessed!” after surviving the “twenty-to-one odds that medical statistics had stacked up against” him. And he declared, “Gratitude is our gladness.”18 I remember with much joyful gratitude of the loving embrace of my God throughout my journey with cancer. Amazing love how can it be! Amazing grace how sweet the sound!
Charles Dyer talked about “Joy: Is laughter the best medicine?” When “lives are stressed out, frazzled and wound too tight needing a break,” how does one avail of God’s prescription of joy? Dyer suggests, “Living above the circumstances.”
Paul wrote to the Philippians while he was in prison. His secret to joy is to look beyond the prison, the beatings, stoning, shipwreck. Paul learned to be content in every circumstance – to get along with humble means and to live in prosperity; of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Phil. 4:11-12)
JOY is spelled Jesus, Others, and You. “JOY is not complete without You.”
The authentic Christian life of integrity is found in joyful living – imitating Jesus, serving Others, and humouring yourself. Each time I ride on the plane, I am reminded to buckle my own seat belt, put on my own mask before I help someone else. Life is often serious, not without pain and challenges. Disappointments and frustrations of life can be draining.
It can “suck the joy from even the most mature Christian.” We need to fill up our gas tank – our source of personal joy with gratitude. Yes, Smedes is right: gratitude is our gladness.
Being joyful is being a true witness of Jesus Christ who calls us to abundant living. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He gives abundant grace, bestows abundant life. We respond in no other way than to praise and give Him thanks.
The authentic Christian lives in joyful gratitude. He does not forget the past with all his sins; he remembers as well the saving grace of Jesus, which blots out all his sins. He looks forward in joyful expectation of the day when his master will say to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Oh, what a festive day that will be!
Dyer, Charles. 1997. The Power of Personal Integrity. Wheaton: Tyndale Publishers, Inc.
Smedes, Lewis B. 2002. A Life of Distinction. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press.