Monday, April 27, 2015

Pastoral Pings ~ The Only Reason to Rejoice Always

          “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”[1]

          For the next while, I will focus my prayerful meditation on this verse, and those that follow.[2]I continue to consider Paul’s instructions in Philippians through the central exhortation of “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”[3]
          This means that I will be watching for the ways God is working in me and his church to will to rejoice in the Lord always, and to work into practice true rejoicing in the Lord at all times, and in all circumstances. And I will be considering how to work these things out with fear and trembling, always conscious that God is at work in me for his good pleasure and my complete joy.[4]
          My first thoughts on this verse lead me to consider it in contrasts. When Paul urges his beloved brothers to rejoice “in the Lord,” he calls them to a distinctive experience of rejoicing we cannot find anywhere else. There is no reasonable facsimile to the rejoicing God’s children can experience in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
          In contrast to the wonderful reality and hopefulness of rejoicing in the Lord, to tell people to, “Rejoice always! Again I will say, Rejoice!” is to impose on them a hopeless expectation. The key, and central, and life-giving, reason to rejoice is in the person and work of Jesus the Christ. Telling a world filled with violence, religious hatred, godlessness of all kinds, evolutionary meaninglessness, and natural disasters galore, that people should simply rejoice instead of acknowledging their true feelings, is both heartless, and hopeless.
          At the same time, to challenge people: “Rejoice in (fill in the blank with anything you want) always; and again I will say, rejoice,” is equally hopeless, and perhaps more deceptive. It is hopeless to tell people to rejoice for no reason at all. It also is deceptive to tell people that they can find every reason to rejoice in something other than Jesus. Self-based joy is deceptively hopeless. Other-based rejoicing is deceptively hopeless. Money-based, or possession-based joy is fleetingly hopeless.
          While nothing-based joy, and wrongly-founded joy, are both hopeless, God speaks to his children about something that is not only better, but is the most hopeful reality that every child of God can experience. He presents the joyful song of, “Rejoice IN THE LORD always; again I will say, rejoice.” In so doing, he presents the most hopeful, certain, encouraging, uplifting, promising exhortation for all the children of God.
          It would take far more than a Pondering to explain all the reasons that Jesus Christ gives us cause, and hope, to rejoice always. However, there are three primary realities in the Son of God that give focus to our hope and joy.
          First, Jesus Christ is our Creator, hence our ultimate rejoicing is found in relationship with him, and coming home to his creative purposes for our lives.
          Second, Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, fully resolving the sin-problem that destroyed our relationship to him and his Father. He alone can restore people to the relationship with God that returns us to joy.
          Third, Jesus Christ is our Coming King. No matter what bad things happen in our world, with increasing worldwide hatred of the children of God, Jesus himself will return in glory, and fully return his brothers to eternal joy.
          God’s glorious word tells us, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[5] The fact that we can know Jesus Christ as Creator, Redeemer, and Coming King, gives us reason to rejoice in him, and all we have in him. He will lead us into his fullness of joy, and his eternal pleasures, at his return.
          In the meantime, immerse yourself in the word of God. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[6]Spend time drinking in the things Jesus has spoken to us. The joy he gives us enables us to rejoice in him always, both now, and forevermore.
          You are invited to this joy.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
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.)

[1] Philippians 4:4
[2] Philippians 4:4-7
[3] Philippians 2:12-13
[4] God working for his good pleasure is always focused on his work to complete our joy as John describes in I John 1:3-4.
[5] Psalm 16:11
[6] John 15:11

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