This past week I made the following statement in my sermon:
Anything that impacts our joy, in essence its source, has become our object of worship, replacing our worship of Christ.
As is normally the case, my statement has incited a fair amount of discussion! Many people reacted to this saying that “many things” impact their state of happiness and wellbeing. I resign to the reality that this is true. But, let me expound the subject for a better understanding of my statement.
Joy is defined by Mirriam Webster as “an emotion or state of happiness”. But, it is also defined as “a source or cause of delight”. Both are equally important. However, the second, while defined after the first, is foundational to the first definition. We must know our source or cause in order to experience joy.
I stand firm that scripture gives us all we need for living and that we are to conform to the life it asks us to live! That is a truth we as Christians uphold. If that becomes our standard, then our joy should never be affected by anything other than the central truth and message of the Gospel.
This week we discussed Romans 5:6-11, specifically verses 8 & 9. This is where we see the truth that while we were/are imperfect sinners, Christ gave His life to ransom us from hell. That is to be our true source of joy. Knowing that someone greater than ourselves would give His life for us, should bring joy. Knowing that we are gifted an eternity in Heaven and not in Hell should be an equally joyful thought.
Isaiah 35:10 & 51:11 both state “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” What does that say to us? Well, you and I are the “ransomed of the Lord” and Zion is the promise land or Heaven we have waiting. These verses tell us that we are to claim the everlasting joy as the result. It tells us that sorrow and struggle will go away from us. What troubles could become so overbearing they cloud the joy of a salvation through Christ and a promise of Heaven? I can’t think of anything! So, why is it that we stray from this?
Our answer is in Romans 1:25 where it says “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Here, Paul is talking about the fact that God gave man over to his own demise through the act of man’s free will choice. When we quit worshipping God as the center of all things, we were given to strife struggle and pain. This is true from the very beginning. When Adam and Eve worshipped their own desire for knowledge, and sinned, the result was turmoil through hard work and pain in childbirth. When we worship anything created instead of the Creator, we are subject to the same pain and turmoil!
Because He is a just God, He gives us the free will to choose! But, choosing to focus on and worship anything other than Him will steal our joy. Anything that gets more attention, time, energy, resources, effort, thought, emotion and care than our relationship with a loving and righteous God, is the very thing we worship! That has become our God; just as the idols that Israel made to worship instead of God!
Paul faced many, many trials throughout his life. He was beaten, rejected, jailed and shipwrecked a few times! All the while we see Paul stating that his joy was increasing! It increased as he grew closer to God and his love grew more for the Savior. In 1 Corinthians 7:4 Paul says that even in great affliction his joy is growing! Why? Because if we worship and lean into the Savior, especially in trials and affliction, we experience more joy! I can find no greater joy than knowing a Savior who loves me as I am and that would give His life for me!
The reality is that this is contrary to human nature. We want to worship ourselves first! But, that is worshipping the created and not the Creator! So, let me ask you this:
What is your God? What do you worship? Where is your joy found?