About a week ago I was driving home from work and had the Christian radio station playing in the car. It had been a long day and I couldn’t resist turning the music up rather loudly. A few minutes later, I was singing along. Well, let’s be honest, I was just straight-up getting my “worship on” and wasn’t shy about it. That is, at least, until I came to a red light. After a couple seconds, I soon developed the uneasy feeling that I was being watched. A slow and awkward turn of my head revealed a car sitting to my left with the driver staring blankly back at me. After what seemed like a few hours, the light finally turned green and I drove off, slightly embarrassed. What had I been thinking? I was a grown man behaving like a teenage girl.
But then another thought occurred to me. So what? So what if I had been so filled with joy that I acted like a bit of a fool. It didn’t hurt anybody. It wasn’t excessive. In fact, I became quite scared of my initial embarrassment. How easy it would have been for me to give in. How normal it is for us to lose our joyful passion for God.
And that’s a problem.
We live in a culture and society in which pure joy is a rare commodity. It’s seldom seen in daily life. In fact, we’ve come to believe that it cannot and should not be normal. Sure, joy can be found at Disney World, winning a sporting event, receiving a raise, or getting drunk. But joy in mundane events? Joy in random circumstances? Joy even in hardships? That’s nonsensical.
The truth is, they’re right. It is nonsensical. It is irrational…unless you’re a Christian. See, Believers should actually be characterized by joy. Joy is a fruit of the spirit. This means that a true faith in Christ naturally produces a deep-seeded joy in our hearts – in all circumstances. But how can this be? Yes, there is a great deal of good things in this world, but it is also unquestionably broken. How can there be joy in brokenness? How can there be joy in the midst of such sinfulness?
The answer is that being joyful does not negate the brokenness of this world. Christians should also feel sorrow, anger, and anguish. See, the joy that Christians possess is not rooted in circumstances – it is rooted in Christ. That’s the secret to this great paradox. It’s why we can have joy in the midst of sorrow. It’s why we can have joy in the midst of mundane events. It’s why we can have joy while driving home after a long day of work.
The joy isn’t in the situation – it’s in spite of it. To followers of Christ, a lost job isn’t only a lost job – it’s a reminder that our true treasure is found in heaven. Sickness isn’t only sickness – it’s a reminder that God is the ultimate healer. Death isn’t only death – it’s a reminder that God provides everlasting life. The list goes on and on. That’s why there is always a reason to rejoice in everything. That’s why Christianity is so unique. And that’s why we CAN’T lose the joy. If we do, then we just become like everybody else. We become like the world – and we miss out on the good things God has in store for us.
Now listen, I’m not saying that we all need to turn into TobyMac while driving home. We all express joy in different ways. But, I amsaying that we should not try to hide, disguise, or destroy the joy that we have. We need to experience it and we need to show it to the world – because the world needs to see it just as much as we need to feel it. Pure joy is not only desirable, but it’s also contagious. What if all Christians were more joyful? What if none of us ever lose our zeal and passion for God? I can only imagine the great things that would do for our world and for God’s kingdom.
As for me, I’m going to keep turning the music up and getting “worship-weird” in the car. I don’t care if I’m 80 years old. And if you happen to pull up next to me at a red light… well, hopefully you’ll sing along too.
“Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:10
The joy that Christians possess is not rooted in circumstances – it is rooted in Christ.