Rejoice Always? Rejoice Always!
When you think of churches, perhaps you think of grand cathedrals of Europe, modern mega-churches, or your hometown church. But do you think of joy? Do you remember them as joyful places? What about Christians? When you think of them, do you think of joyful people? There isn’t much joy in the faces of many depicted in the news these days, shouting at those with whom they disagree, or demonstratively supporting causes synonymous with hate and putting down others.
Life is tough these days, right? The pandemic, stress associated with work, finding work, keeping work, enjoying work, family squabbles, relationships, health issues, death, social media pressures, school, friends, and our hectic lives, are just a few of the many challenges we face. The fact is, life has always been tough. I’d say it was at least as tough during the time period of the Bible.
Nevertheless, there is a clear, oft-repeated message, from the Old Testament, the psalms, and the New Testament, including specific directions from Jesus himself, and from Paul to those struggling to be Christ-followers: Rejoice! No matter what life dishes out – rejoice. Rejoice always!
While it sounds like a directive, for Christians it should go without saying. Afterall, if we have a relationship with God, does anything else REALLY matter? And shouldn’t we be glad that because of Jesus Christ we can have a relationship with God? We can’t earn it. We can’t buy it. We don’t have to worry about to whom we were born because it cannot be inherited. We simply have to accept it. Believe it. Isn’t that something to be joyful about?
It’s a matter of perspective, isn’t it? We must be intentional about being joyful. And as Christians, we aren’t. Why would anyone else want to be a Christ-follower if a sour puss like ours was the result. Why would anyone else want to believe in an eternal life, if we don’t act like there is one? Why would anyone else believe that we actually have a relationship with God when we seem to dwell in misery? The best witness for a Christ relationship? Joy. Happiness. Those should be our goals.
Will we still experience loss, hurt, and pain. Sure. Jesus knows something about that, right? We are human. Life is what it is and we will. But, we have the God-fueled and God-filled perspective to see hope and to move on.