Christians today are characterized as joyful, right?
Not so fast!
According to a Pew Research Center report in 2019 only 36% of the “actively religious” describe themselves as very happy. That is at least higher than the 25% of inactively religious that claim to be very happy, right? I have no idea how much of the 36% are made up of Christians. But if Christians are only a part of the “actively religious” group, then our numbers are even lower. If that report is even in the ballpark of true, many Christians are missing out on the joy thing.
How about you? Do you have joy? Is your joy full?
There are many things going on in the world that can trick us into exchanging joy for concern. Or, perhaps when we look inward, the light of joy seems dim compared to the looming darkness of regret or pain.
Jesus didn’t want us sad. He wants joy for us.
Consider the words of Jesus in John 15, when he spoke of our dependence upon himself. We as branches are useless apart from the vine:
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Or, a few verses later in chapter 16, when Jesus spoke to the disciples:
Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Or, a little further in chapter 17 when Jesus prays:
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
If Jesus desires full joy-meters, why aren’t the statistics higher? What is stealing our joy?
In many cases, I think we are the thieves, taking joy from before us and replacing it with delusions of grandeur and control. Perhaps the most likely culprit is we get into the business of trying to control our circumstances. Given an honest assessment, however, we understand how little control we truly possess and how quickly our lives can be spun into chaos. And even when we can manage our circumstances and we get what we want (or we “think” we get what we want), we find ourselves quickly dissatisfied.
Our circumstances have never been the source of joy.
Jesus knew what was best when He instructed us to abide in Him. Come rain or shine, the vine is the life-giver to the branches. Abiding in Jesus is the only pathway to fullness of joy. Don’t let the circumstances of the world, however dismal they may be, tempt you to disconnect from Jesus.
There’s not a higher percentage chance of joy with Him. It’s an absolute guarantee.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)