The calling to “rejoice in the Lord” would not then be a burdensome rule to keep with wearisome effort, but an invitation, a joyful reminder, to look at where we are, and whom we are in, and let our hearts rejoice in him.
This is in contrast to the other options. If we look at ourselves for reasons to rejoice, either we admit that we have none, or we fall into prideful, self-centered ideas that give pseudo-pleasures that simply do not last. If we look at the world around us for reasons to rejoice, either we see that there are none, or we fabricate mirages of joy that disappear as quickly as we approach them. If we look at people to give us joy, we discover that they are so lacking joy that they want us to make them happy as much as our emptiness of joy makes us wish they could make us happy.
And then we meet Jesus and hear him telling us that the experience of his words will full us up with his fullness of joy so that our joy is filled to the max. What is that really like?
Have you ever been in a setting where someone is so overjoyed at something to do with Jesus that his or her joy is literally contagious? Now, picture yourself inside perfect, infinite, eternal joy. Imagine yourself inside of Jesus and his joy, as though his very joy was the breath you breathed, the pressure of the air around you that keeps you who you are in him.
Now listen to Jesus speaking to you from his word while you are in his joy. What would his word sound like? What would happen to you if you heard him speaking to you from his joy, for your joy? What would happen to your desire to meet with him before the day begins, or at the end of a busy day, if you knew that you were entering the one who in his “presence there is fullness of joy”, and at his “right hand are pleasures forevermore”?
Add to this that it is Jesus who initiates your experience of joy, working to convince you that you could be as joyful as he is. He initiated speaking to his disciples, knowing that from his words they would come to have faith, and from their experience of faith in him and his words they would come to have joy, and, when they knew his joy, their own joy would be brought up to the fullness he designed into us by making us in his own image and likeness in the first place.
Back in my younger years, it was common to hear people say that God just wants people to be unhappy, or that following Jesus is a joy-killer. Those who receive Jesus’ words know that it is quite the opposite, that he is actually the Joyful One who brings our joy to fullness in him.
Now, let’s try this again: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
From my heart,
© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ email@example.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)