And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

1 John 1: 4

 

Let me make a bold statement that is produced from my understanding of life. There is one place in this world where joy resides. This is in the presence of God that comes through and from a relationship with Jesus Christ. It almost seems as if I should just stop right here. That is the beginning, the content, and the conclusion of the story of a life that is truly lived. Let me go on to say that this joy that John is discussing is something quite special itself. It is much grater and more comprehensive than happiness or laughter or other forms and expressions of emotion.

 

Joy is resident deep in the heart, and it also speaks to the mind with words that bring peace and comfort. Joy is the result of knowing that this life and the world where it is carried out have true meaning and purpose. It is a gift that God gives to His people that is granted to us ass a result of Christ’s willing sacrifice of Himself for our eternal sakes. Joy is made real as we grow in our relationships with Christ. We gain depth and breadth of understanding of joy through God’s word of life as we study its text, pray through it and meditate upon it, and live out its truths in the community of faith that is Christ’s body.

 

This joy that Christ gives to His people is more in the nature of a characteristic than it is an emotion. It is present on the happiest of days, and it is with us during our darkest moments. Joy comes from the deeply planted knowledge that we are never alone in this life. It is an expression of the unending presence of the Holy Spirit within us, and it comes from the certainty that Christ is the answer to every situation, circumstance, and condition in this life. Joy is complex, and it is very simple. It is the summation of the experience of Christ, and it is the faith caused acceptance of the absolute truth of the Living Word. This joy is very personal; yet, it is understood most fully when its full range of expression is shared in Christ’s community of faith.

 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people chosen for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2: 9

 

Knowing Christ changes everything. He makes us over into people who are truly special, for we are chosen by God. In our acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord we submit the direction and the outworking of our lives to God’s will and commit to live under the authority of His righteousness. So, when we submit to Christ, God chooses to pour out His grace upon us and adopt us as His beloved children. When this happens our primary citizenship is no longer defined by a nation, state, or city. Our principle occupation is now sacred and no longer secular. Power, position, possessions, and might should no longer drive us; rather, we are to be humbly submitted to service to the King.

 

In Christ we have sacred duties to perform. We serve at the alter in God’s temple. This is demanding duty for this temple is never closed and it is actively seeking new adherents to the faith. As priests who serve Christ our daily activities form an important part of the liturgy of this holy place. For God, rather than establishing a fixed place for His dwelling on earth, has established Himself within each and every one of us who follow Christ. We are that righteous place of worship that starving and desperate people can come to in order to find the peace, restoration, and loving truth that is God’s living word of grace.

 

This service to Christ requires us to open our hands and our hearts to people of all human descriptions without regard for how much discomfort they may cause us to feel. We are granted the great privilege of following Jesus by touching the soiled faces of this world’s people with the cleansing water of Christ’s baptism of light. This is honorable work. It is a holy endeavor that only God’s chosen are empowered to do. This is the calling that Christ lays upon the hearts and the minds of His people.