A Joy-Filled Life in Christ?

In the midst of our pursuit of God, we can oftentimes focus so much on the challenges or seriousness of discipleship that we miss out on the joy and celebration of our life with God in Christ. For me personally, this is very true. Too often, I am thinking about the struggles and trials on this earth where we are pilgrims just passing through.

It is true that we are citizens of our heavenly home, who are just passing through. The writer of Hebrews makes this clear in his rehearsal of the faith-filled pursuers of God in the Bible. He writes: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

While that is true, it is also true that God is the maker of joy, who longs to bring that into our lives. This came to home to me recently as I read Paul’s words to the church in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Paul was no stranger to suffering. He even writes earlier in his letter to that same church: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). We know that Paul suffered extreme physical and emotional hardships in his itinerant ministry of church planting (2 Corinthians 11:16-29). But even in his sufferings, Paul knew the joy of Jesus.

Consider also David’s prayer to God in the psalms: “You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

God is a God of joy for those who live in Him. Obviously, there are ups and downs in our lives, both externally and internally. But what does it mean to live in God’s joy over the long haul of life, even with its ups and downs?

How have you experienced the joy of life with God?

Matt Erickson

I am a husband to Kelly, father of three boys, a pastor, musician, avid hiker, disciple of Christ. Currently, I am employed as the Senior Pastor at Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee, WI. Before that I was the Associate Pastor at Brooklife Church in Mukwonago, WI, which I helped to plant a few years ago after serving for five years as the Collegiate Ministries Pastor at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. I graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Northern Theological Seminary and a Bachelors in English and Christian Education from Wheaton College (IL).

Interact with me more at the Renovate blog, Twitter or Facebook.


Comments

Matt, This is a timely post.

Matt,

This is a timely post. I'm working on a similar message regarding 1 Peter and the joy he calls us to, despite our "earthly" struggles as exiles.

I think it can be really tough, especially for teens, to grasp the reason for joy, Jesus and being reunited with him, because it can be such an abstract concept. It's easy to get excited about roller coasters and concerts and friends. I think it can be hard to "get" that we have a final destination and that it should make us happy to know that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how to better communicate joy in the midst of struggle.

Eddy

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