December 14, 2006

The Joy of a Christian

The Joy of a Christian

Today, I have a positive confession to make about being a Christian. I believe that one of the biggest obstacles for people accepting the gospel is the misunderstanding that the Christian life is one of boredom and joylessness. Well, brothers and sisters I am here to tell you that this assumption is true to a certain extent, but this is because we have failed to exhibit the completeness of being a Spirit-filled Christian.

Why do people have this misconception? To answer this question, I think the following questions will be helpful.

1) When people observe our attitudes, words, actions and interactions, do they see the real, living, loving, life of Christ inside us? Or…do they see a downcast, non-existent, defeated, pseudo-Jesus?
2) Do you know why Jesus taught His disciples to utterly depend on Him (John 15:5, 11)? With Him we can produce much fruit but without Him we can do nothing. But also… "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
3) Do you know one of the results of being controlled by the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
4) Do you know what Paul proclaimed to the Philippians while spending time in prison (Phil. 4:4)? "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" What does rejoice mean? To find joy again. If you’ve lost it, find it! Where? "In the Lord." How often? "Always."
5) Do you know the first question and answer to the Westminster Confession of Faith? "What is the chief end of man?" "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
6) Would you agree that many Christians and all non-Christians have an incomplete or an inaccurate understanding about what it means to know Christ personally? C. S. Lewis said, "most people don’t reject Christianity, they reject a false caricature of Christianity."
7) Why did Jesus say he came? He came for a number of reasons but according to John 10:10b He said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full"—abundant life.
I have some more good news for you: not only do we know, love, worship and serve a good, great and gracious God, but…
God Give Us Several Realistic Reasons to be Positive:
• God assures us that all our sins are forgiven (Rom. 8: 1)—that takes care of the past.
• God assures us His Spirit will indwell and empower us—that takes care of the present.
• God assures us that we will dwell in His house forever—that takes care of the future.
With the past forgiven, power for the present and the future guaranteed it’s unrealistic to be negative! If we love God and are called according to His purpose we should be positive! After all, didn’t Paul say in Romans 8 that we are more than conquerors through Christ?
I’m not saying that a Christian never has negative thoughts or never gets discouraged. I am saying that since we know, love, worship and serve a living savior we can be realistically optimistic! When we lose our joy we can regain it, we can rejoice—find joy again—if we learn, like David, to encourage our hearts "in the Lord."
• I believe that, as Christians, we need to live joyful lives so that when anybody sees us they will say, "I don’t know what that person has, but whatever it is, I want to get some of it."
• I believe that God wants us to have a contagious faith so people will "catch" Jesus’ love!
• I believe that our Lord expects us to experience and demonstrate His joy to others.
Again—I’m not suggesting everything that happens is good or we put a forced smile on our face. I am saying that since all things work together for good for those who love God, we should cultivate an attitude of gratitude by thanking God for what He permits to come our way.
If an unbeliever perceives us as harsh, stern-faced, never-smiling, joyless person, he will, in most cases, want no part of our kind of Christianity. And why should he? How shall unbelievers know that we are Christ’s disciples? If we have love! (Jn. 13:34-5) I don’t know about you but I never had it so good!… so much love, peace, joy, happiness, security, contentment, along with better physical, mental and spiritual health. We can never out give God. All that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever hope to be, we owe it all to the grace and goodness of God.
Two of the most basic sins mentioned by Paul in Romans 1:21 are: not honoring or glorifying God as God and not giving thanks to him. If we would live joy-filled lives we must learn to honor God as God (give Him His rightful place in our lives) and give thanks to Him. The more that you thank God for what you have, the more you will have to thank God for.
In conclusion, remember, as Christians we have every reason to be joyful, and this joy should manifest itself in a way that makes Christianity attractive. Paul says in Romans 8:1-2 “ Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” I beseech you brethren to never forget that you are free from the terrors and tortures of being enslaved from the bondage of sin and joylessness. We have no excuse to mope and be pessimistic humbugs. Jump for joy for the fact that you have Christ as your friend, savior, and Lord, and for the sake of the gospel let others see your joy.

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