Greetings from the Moderator APRIL 2021
Celebrating Life, Filled with Joy
“Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is His eternal destiny. God is the happiest being in the universe.” John Ortberg:
Easter is over. The lilies are taken away. The last notes of the joyous music died down. As we leave the building, we face the reality of a world that is not filled with much hope. Even the hope of some sort of normalcy with the introduction of the virus vaccine is quickly overshadowed by a new international, national, or personal crisis. As Jon Tyson stated it: “We have become a people mired in the twenty-four-hour news cycle, fed a constant diet of hopelessness and despair.”
How should we as the church respond to this world that is filled with darkness and so many times despair? Or are we so dragged into this darkness of our brokenness that we ourselves struggle to see the light and therefore have lost any impact on the people around us?
As followers of Jesus, it may be wise to think about the character of God for a moment. Sadly, for some God is this angry judge that came to steal all our joy and is out to punish us for any misstep. So, he needs to be avoided at all cost. This is a bad misunderstanding of God’s response to sin and evil in this world that does not define His character but only His dealing with our sin.
The Biblical reflection of God’s character is one of utmost joy. Ortberg stated it like this:
“We will not understand God until we understand this about Him: God is the happiest being in the universe. God also knows sorrow. Jesus is remembered, among other things, as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. But the sorrow of God, like the anger of God is His temporary response to a fallen world. That sorrow will be banished forever from His heart on the day the world is set right. Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is His eternal destiny. God is the happiest being in the universe.”
If this is true about God and we are to represent Him in this world then this reality about God also needs to be reflected in our daily living. We are called to be a people of joy and celebration. Our response to the brokenness of this world can also be of anger and disappointment but we should be defined by our joy in Christ and not as miserable, hopeless people.
Paul reminds us of this in Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
This joy is a discipline, it is a choice. It is a decision to start my day by reminding myself I am a child of God and He has given me a life to enjoy, the best I can. That I am surrounded by His blessings and presence and therefore to look up and see the glory of His creation and rejoice in Him. Celebration is a Godly defiance in a culture of doubt and darkness.
Easter is never over – the celebration can never end. Maybe we will have an impact on our world if we have a joy that is so attractive that the world around us will want to know who the source of our joy is.