Having spent the last two weeks considering that Jesus is both our hope and our peace, we come to the third Sunday of Advent and remember that Jesus is our joy. We live in a society that is pulled between two poles when it comes to joy. Either life and the world pull us down so much that we have no joy or we find our joy in our life and the world. To both of these positions Christmas reminds us that Christ is our joy.
For many people this year has been tough; it seems like everything has gone wrong and to top it off the world around us is becoming increasingly unstable. Culturally the Church has become largely irrelevant at best and hated at worst, standing against the oncoming moral revolutions. In the midst of this turmoil God reminds us through Christmas that Jesus is our Joy.
(Although everything is going badly…)
“yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
When the world is crumbling around us we can rejoice that we have a God who isn’t content to leave us in our turmoil and our sin but actually chose to come and save us.
To other people – and sometimes the same people on different days – the world can bring us so much pleasure. Whether it be music, sport, a good book, the latest Marvel movie, friends and family, there are many things in life that bring us pleasure. When everything is going well for us God also reminds us through Christmas that Jesus is our Joy. The little pleasures in this life are not bad (mostly) but they are temporary. Paul says in Philippians 3:8
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
Christ is so much greater than the little pleasures that we experience here on earth. It is not for nothing that the Westminster Shorter Catechism opens by saying that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” In Christmas Christ opened the way for us to truly fulfil our purpose in glorifying God and in doing so we can and will have eternal joy. Hear the words of Psalm 100:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
This advent, let us not get bogged down by the troubles of the world or distracted by the pleasures of the world but let us fix our eyes on the true source of joy.
This post comes from Ben Smith, who shares a deep conviction of Scripture as the infallible counsel of God, and that aided by the Holy Spirit we can arrive at a coherent understanding of what it teaches as a whole.