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Joy Up!

Shout to God with loud songs of joy
Psalm 47:1

Apparently in the ancient days of Judaism it was proper, and accepted, for people to leap, shout and sing to God no matter where they found themselves. Today? Not so much. It’s best to not try the leaping and singing approach at the Mall or in the Express Checkout line at the grocery store. You may get a Cease & Desist order for your trouble. So how should we express our joy and passion for God in today’s more muted world, especially at Christmas time? Here are three possibilities:

  1. Separate joy from fun. Biblical joy is not the same as fun. We can gin up fun in a variety of ways; joy, however, is a spiritual blessing, even gift, from God through the Holy Spirit. Joy flows from a soul touched by God; fun is an enjoyable moment. One is fleeting, one can be semi-permanent.
    “Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle. It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained” -Terry Pratchett
  2. Seek joy as it’s free and readily available. Joy is so close and all we have to do is invest more of ourselves in God. So why do so few Christians seem to be filled with joy, even during the Advent season? Possibly because we settle for the routine emotions that afflict humanity. You’d think a portion of the Fruit of the Spirit is blah, blah, blah. Let’s not accept anything less than joy. Cheer up and joy up! It certainly beats the alternative.
    “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of Joy” -W. B. Yeats.
  3. It’s all about us…it’s not about us at all. Possibly one lasting takeaway for me this Christmas has been the reality that both the story of Christ’s birth and the entire Gospel story are both about me, and not about me at all. Huh? Jesus came to bring me salvation and a life of purpose. I’ve accepted these facts and internalized them. Jesus has also led me to accept that my salvation compels me to share my faith story with others. As a maturing believer I now exist for other people more than I exist for myself, or that should be my daily goal. So it’s all about me…and it’s not about me at all!

The world sure seems to be a joyless mess. We know a different way to exist. Let’s share it…but only after we live it!

Michael McCullar
Formations Pastor
Johns Creek Baptist Church

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