Joy. We all want it, of that I am sure. Sometimes we feel some wee part of it, occasionally, we get a glimpse of it . . . other times we are convinced it is something others have and we just don't 'get it' and probably won't ever get it. And, somehow or another, as I talk to people around the world, there is a mistaken sense that God and joy are mutually exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Pick up your Bible - yes, please pick it up - and find the little letter of 1 John, which is located just a little bit before you get to the end of your Bible, just a before the book of Revelation. John's first stanza includes this:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- that life was revealed ~ he's talking about Jesus!
and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us- what we have seen and heard we also declare to you ~ he's talking about Jesus! so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.1
Stop. Why in the world would John go to all the trouble to write about his life with Jesus (his Gospel) and now this later letter? After all, it was about the year 90 A.D., and he certainly could not reach into his desk, pull out a piece of paper and take his pick of writing instruments. No, to write anything down in the first century took an immense amount of effort - whether writing on papyrus (from a plant source) or parchment (from calf skin). The only reason a person would make such a tremendous effort would be a passionate commitment to convey vital information. Not only was he inspired by God, but John was so gripped by what he knew he had to share it, no matter the personal cost, and in doing so, he would know great joy.
Yesterday I spent a couple hours at my cellular phone store to make sure I had an adequate camera for an upcoming trip to Israel. You see, I have the vision for a third book , (wait...third book? See below2), and it requires good quality photographs. My salesman was a study in contrasts; born in Iran, he has been in the U.S. since he was a child. Once I told him the nature of my new book, it was easy to ask him about his faith. 'Of course, I am Moslem,' he said, rather disconnectedly, 'but I am really nothing.'
'So you do not go to a mosque here?' I asked across the desk.
'Oh no, no, no.'
Just then I saw the darling picture of his son, hanging from his belt loop. When I asked about the lad, his face lit up, and he even showed me pictures of him in his Halloween costume. Then he got a pensive look and said, 'The thing is - I want my son to have a faith, I just don't know which one.'
Our back and forth was quite interesting, as he conveyed that he was not interested in the narrow path of Jesus. Since he let me know that, I took another tack, 'Why don't you just tell him there is a God - a God who loves him?'
Nodding, he considered that thought and looked long at me. Looking back, I said, 'Because you want to know something? People - people everywhere want to know God. They might not like religion, but they are interested in knowing God.'
John writes about knowing God. Jesus Christ, Son of God, came to show the love of the Father. He was real, he was alive, and his coming changed everything, forever. And get this: Jesus came that we may know him and in knowing him, have joy.
In a couple weeks, I will be on the Sea of Galilee again... the body of water around which Jesus lived, walked, taught, healed and loved, and where the gospels record several different times that Jesus got alone to pray. Last week I read, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed..."3 Have you ever wondered what Jesus talked to his father about? I have thought about it quite a lot. In my prayer time, I asked, 'Lord, what did you pray?' Remembering that John's gospel chapter 17 captured a prayer of Jesus, I turned to note the things Jesus prayed for those who would follow him, including that we would be full of joy.
Joy matters to God, and because John had walked with Jesus, he knew that. Truly, it is in knowing and walking with Jesus that our joy becomes full.
This is the life~
1 - 1 John 1.1-4, CSB
2 - Book number one is Morning Briefings, comprised of daily inspiration from Paul's letters to the Philippians and Colossians, available at https://smile.amazon.com/Morning-Briefings-Christine-Digiacomo/dp/1628391707/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Morning+Briefings&qid=1572190703&sr=8-1
Book number two just came out! Honestly, Hello, God. It's Me is a great little read on growing your prayer life, and is also available at Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Hello-God-Its-journey-PRAYER/dp/1644718332/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=Hello%2C+God.+It%27s+me&qid=1572190891&sr=8-8
3 - Mark 1.35