Where is your Joy?
Are you frustrated that we are living in a country that seems to be progressing in antagonistic attitudes against Christians? Are you frustrated with the seemingly obvious lack of common sense being used in the expression of over 200 sexual identities? Do you feel the urge to complain about every infraction of God’s morality that you see in the media? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, these words are for you.
How do you live in an anti-Christian environment and live out the command of Philippians 4:4 to Rejoice always? Put aside the blogs and read Paul’s final instructions to a church in the midst of the Christ-hating Roman colony of Philippi.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say it, rejoice.”
Before you start pointing the finger at the Apostle Paul and accuse him of having a shallow, happy, happy, joy, joy, message devoid of any real backbone, consider one point. He is writing to a persecuted church from a prison cell with scars on his skin from the beatings he has taken for the sake of Christ – and he is rejoicing. The key to the Apostle’s statement is where our joy is to be found, “In the Lord.” As we study the Scriptures we realize that since Genesis 3 this world has been hurtling toward the destination of destruction. Humanity is corrupted, and sin is an all-encompassing plague of depravity. Christ is the only solution for every individual who will trust in His cross-bearing victory over sin and death. In Christ, we have been reconciled with the Sovereign God of the universe and adopted into his family. We are loved by the God who controls all. We are loved by the God who wins. And we are loved by the God who rejoices in those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Am I shocked that a sin cursed culture continues to spiral in the progression of its immorality? The answer is, No. Am I frustrated by our seemingly declining culture and motivated to speak out against every immorality and anti-God law? The answer is still, No. The culture is unsalvageable. Babylon is doomed and it is part of God’s victory in which I find great joy. The Roman empire was never priority on the agenda for Paul, or Jesus. Paul’s joy, rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, was found in those who had been saved out of a doomed culture and into the Kingdom of Christ. It is because of Christ I can live in a sin ridden culture with hope and joy and even speak to the issues with gospel priority to people who need a Savior.
The Philippians lived in the face of fierce opposition. If their joy could only be obtained by their surroundings becoming friendlier, they would be in for a long, hard, frustrating road. In the face of a world of opposition the Philippian church were called to a never-ending source of joy that would keep them strong in fulfilling the great commission regardless of persecution. Their joy was in Christ and in spreading that joy to Roman citizens who needed Jesus.
We don’t have to walk around sounding angry at the world. In fact, if we do, we are not showing the joy of Christ that the world most needs to see and hear. We don't have to be grumblers at every infringement of God’s holy standard. We don't have to sound like the frustrated cultural commentators of our day. We can be calm, hopeful, joy filled Christians delighting in the confidence we have in Christ and can share with anyone who will listen. And if it means persecution, have joy. This applies to every hardship we could endure as Christians, whether cultural oppression, sickness, loss of loved ones, financial difficulties or even in the wake of this week's very sad shooting in a Texas Church (pray for them please). This world is a bankrupt source of joy and there is no hope of making it better, but Jesus and his gospel is our eternal source in all circumstances and the best is yet to come. Paul’s message to the Philippians is just as applicable to us today!
Where is your Joy? Allow me to answer a question with a question: Where is your focus?