We R rejoicing! But how do we rejoice and where does joy come from?
Let me start by pointing out that society is selling joy. Empty suits sell religion, and mega companies telling you that joy can be found in a bottle, pill, or new car. Everyday on TV you will see ads for bliss, happiness and peace all from material things, different people or new places…but that is not the truth.
Our society has as it’s life song the American dream…”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s amazing, though, that life and liberty are guaranteed but joy on the other hand is not. According to the American mantra, joy is gonna take some work. Your gonna have to buy this, go there and do that with them in this place so you can get it all. And people tend to look in two places to find joy – culture and religion. But…
Rejoicing doesn’t come from Culture
Culture tells you that the goal is to make enough money so that people will serve you. Culture tells you that you can buy joy through new things or new places or new people. And when we look at culture you’ll find that culture tells us that new plans, new possessions, new places, new people, are all that you need to be happy and have joy. But the Bible says different…
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)
But culture doesn’t agree with the Bible, rather it points to itself as the bearer of joy. Culture is not the answer to the pursuit of happiness. Culture will give you different plans, different possessions different places and you may even laugh with different people. But, in the end, it isn’t gonna make you all that happy. You won’t be rejoicing. And so, what people do, they transition the pursuit of happiness from culture to religion. But…
Rejoicing doesn’t come from Religion
Paul reminds you that he used to be in religion until he met Jesus.
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:18-27)
Most religions today begin with a soapy version of pop psychology, a sprinkle of God, and add some new age Oprah-isms. This is extremely popular right now with books like “The Secret,” with spiritual guru’s like Deepak Chopra, even Paris Hilton is in the game of religion and spiritual enrichment. My point is this…in your pursuit of joy, you’ve gotta be really careful that just because it’s says spiritual or religion, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right. You and I have got to be discerning. Might I just submit to you that whatever definition of a good life you have, it should be big enough to include God.
Religions and spiritual guru’s tend to tell you that life is better their way and if you follow the steps. They promise you steps to blissful wonderment. Yet life is not all lined with roses. Its not as easy as some would say. Your probably not going to be rich. You are going to get sick. You will have fights and most likely will die sooner than you want. We need more than pithy bumper sticker truisms. We need more than a good theme song and a quick saying…we need substance, not slogans.
Religion (spiritualism) is all about “you doing something” and Christianity is about what “Jesus has done.”
CNN reported recently that the number one category of prescription medication in the United States of America is anti-depressants. We live in a nation that exists for the cause of the pursuit of happiness and it’s not going that well. People are depressed. Obviously, culture and religion are not working! So where does rejoicing come from?
Rejoicing comes from Christ
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Christ is the key to our joy. We must find our identity in him. We must find our purpose in him. We must find our path from him. I assure you of this…I have no regrets serving Jesus with my life. Jesus is the best master. Jesus gives true joy. He loves. He serves. He cares. He hears. He gives. He lives. He dies. He rises. He intercedes. He prepares a place and he’s coming again.
Today, I want you to walk away from the pursuit of happiness in sin or religion, and instead, come to Jesus, and be a servant & child of God. I assure you of this. It’s the only way to have joy. The only way to be rejoicing.
So here are some questions for you to ask about your joy?
- Do you have joy?
- Why is your plan not working?
- Will you start rejoicing?