Finding your joy
Pastor Douglas C. Pierce, Lake Jennie Evangelical Covenant, Dassel
In the first epistle of the apostle John, the apostle states that his purpose in writing the epistle is to “make our joy complete” or in some translations “make your joy complete.” Either way you want to translate that passage, I am intrigued by the idea of making joy complete.
Each of us is constantly looking for ways to find joy in our lives. We want joy and happiness to take up permanent residence in our daily lives. There are many ways we seek joy.
One way is through the acquisition of things. Many in our consumer culture believe that the next toy, the new car, or the better house is going to give us the happiness that we so desperately want.
Yet, while things often bring us joy, they are incapable of bringing us complete joy because by their very nature, they are finite and will wear out or be supplanted by a better, or fancier, or newer model.
We often also look to our relationships to find joy. The perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, the model husband or wife, a good friend, or a loving family; all of these things are capable of bringing joy into our lives.
Therefore, we celebrate the relationships of our lives, but I would like to argue that in the end, relationships cannot bring us complete joy either because they are both finite, meaning that even the most wonderful relationship will some day need to come to an end, but even more because we all realize that people are imperfect.
For all that we love the people around us, we also recognize that none of them is perfect and all will in some situation, and at some time fail us and make joy incomplete.
That is why some people argue that the answer is to avoid the things of this world and look for our joy within ourselves.
In the perfection of our thoughts and minds, we can find this perfect peace, this complete joy. This idea is at the heart of many eastern religions and New Age philosophies that are popular in our country. But this idea ignores the fact that just as others are finite and flawed, so are we.
Our awareness of our own mortality always interferes with our best instincts, and often our best instincts are replaced by base instincts that rob us of joy.
So how is our joy to be made complete? The answer for us, just as it was for the Apostle Paul is to look to something greater than, ourselves, and that is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Because Christ is the one infinite and perfect thing that we have to hold onto in this world, he can be the thing that makes our joy complete. Jesus is the anchor that holds all things together in the midst of the storms of this world.
As things break down, as relationships come to an end, and even as we fail ourselves, Christ remains constant and unfailing. In Him we can find our joy always and completely. Amen