READ: Psalm 111, Nahum 2, John 15, Colossians 1
LIVE DEAD JOY
The Joy of Being Hated. Jesus intends for His joy to abide in us and that our joy be full (John 15:11). In the same breath as bestowed joy, Jesus reminds us that being chosen for His joy demands being hated by the world (v. 19). The crucified life is not a dour “everyone is against me” martyrdom; it is a joyful “some hate me because of Jesus” celebration. We live with the twin realities of being accepted by Jesus and rejected by the world. Being chosen, loved, and filled with Jesus affords us a joy that more than compensates the sting of being rejected. We should strive neither to be accepted or rejected by the world; we should put our energies into pleasing Jesus and reveling in the joy that always accompanies obedience. Rejoice in being in fellowship with Jesus and allow the relational chips to fall where they may. Some will hate us, some will love us. It doesn’t really matter; what matters is that we are joyously loyal to Jesus.
The Joy of Being Patient. Paul prays that the believers in Colosse will be “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long-suffering with joy” (Col. 1:11). Waiting is the lot of all men. What distinguishes the mature follower of Jesus is the ability to endure with gladness. We can have our external freedoms curtailed, we can lose possessions, we can even lose our reputation. But joy cannot be stolen from us; it has to be surrendered. When followers of Jesus respond to delays, disappointments, and extended frustrations with joy, it is like nails on the chalkboards of hell. The continually joyous are a great irritant to the demonic powers–for they keep smiling and praising no matter the prison or problem. The continually joyous are a great delight to the heavenly host and the heavenly Father for the same reason.
The Joy of Suffering. Paul goes on to remind his disciples that he “rejoices in my sufferings for you” (Col. 1:24). Paul was willing, for the sake of the body, to suffer repeatedly that Christ would be formed in the believers, which is our hope of glory (v. 27). Suffering is a joy when we understand it completes others, it helps others know Jesus better. Suffering for our own folly is not noble–that is just deserved discipline. Suffering for others’ sake is joyous for we see (even if by faith) that our discomfort leads directly to Christ growing in the hearts of others–and that is glorious. Followers of Jesus can cheerfully anticipate suffering, for we have the assurance our future pain is not in vain. It will cultivate Christ in others. If our temporary and seasonal suffering (anything from discomfort to agony) helps Christ to be magnified in our disciples, family, colleagues and friends, it truly is a joy.