Back before the virus became full-blown we were doing a study on the “Fruit of the Spirit” at East Faulkner St. Church of Christ. At that time Scott Johnson, the pulpit minister, encouraged the men who wished to give a lesson on a fruit of spirit to do so. At that time I went home and began to look at the subject: “The Fruit of the Spirit is JOY.” Well, you know what happened…the virus hit, worship had to be modified and Scott decided to go in another direction…we had the Days of Noah Living in Nod and the Second Coming of Christ.
Matthew 2:10 “When they [the Wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding JOY” (emphasis, mine); and Luke 2:10 the angel talking to the shepherds said, “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid for behold, I bring you tidings of GREAT JOY (emphasis, mine) which will be to ALL PEOPLE’” (emphasis, mine). Men who were at the opposite ends of the economic spectrum are both filled with JOY at the message they heard.
In part I have to give I have to give Dr. Kent Jobe some credit for this idea of writing on JOY, because at the beginning of this year he challenged College Ave. Church of Christ to pick a word as kind of their moniker or word of the year. For some reason I picked the word JOY to be mine. After choosing that word it seems everywhere I turn I ran into the word JOY. In my daily Bible readings or devotional reading the word JOY or some form of it has popped up and honestly it gave me JOY when it did.
A world that is dark with despair, disappointment, and grief stands in need of a religion of joy.
Every human heart hungers for joy. Humankind constantly seeks happiness. But not as deep or inward as joy, happiness results from things that happen in one’s life or to the people whom that person loves. Many people seek happiness by acquiring cash, by enjoying pleasurable emotions, or by seeking gratification through people, places, or positions.
Many people have given no consideration at all to Jesus Christ as the source of deep, inward, satisfying joy. People ignore Jesus because a distorted concept of who he is has been spread. Christ sometimes has been misrepresented by people who claim to represent and interpret him to others.
Webster says that Joy is “a very glad feeling, delight, anything causing this.” Many people, when they think of Jesus have a hard time associating the word JOY with him, yet there were periods of JOY as well as periods of Sorrow in his life. Repeatedly our Lord spoke of joy. He experienced fullness of joy, and he desired that his disciples experience fullness of joy as well (John 15:11; 17:13). Jesus’ opponents called him a glutton; Jesus’ opponents called him a drunkard; Jesus’ opponents called him a friend of publicans and sinners. If Jesus had been a “Sad Sack” people would certainly not have wanted to be around him. He was joyfully in the midst of life all of his life.
If behooves us as Christians to be the most JOY-FILLED people in the world. I know with the virus having affected so many homes it seem hard to be Joyous even at this time of the year, but none-the-less we need to heed the life of Jesus as we approach this Christmas Season and New Year. I read in a devotional recently that said, “Happiness depends on what is happening, but Joy depends of Jesus.” Have a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year.
James E. “Jim” Willis is writing this week in the stead of Scott Johnson.