April 2008 Pastor's Page
Jesus came, not to make us happy, but to teach us how to be joyful. Jesus said in John 15:11 “I have come that your joy might be increased.” Or, as another translation says, “I have come that your joy might be complete.” Jesus comes to us by the way of the cross, which at first glance, is a time and a place of sorrow, darkness, gloom and death. When we look closer, it becomes our joy in Christ. He clears the way for us.
We confuse happiness and joy. Some believe that they are one and the same. But, happiness is a choice. Happiness is a response. Happiness can be a checkbook that has a positive balance when the bills are paid. Happiness is the annual tax return in the mail with an anticipated refund. Happiness is the absence of major hassles or crime. Happiness is a good report card. Happiness is a raise.
Joy comes in the connection with another person or with Jesus. Joy comes in praising God in worship. Joy comes in being the hands and feet of Christ.
Joy can happen without money, or a working car. Joy happens when we get to the core of life and realize that love is at the core. Joy is the experience of God’s forgiveness of sins. Joy finds strength in hope.
Joy befriends us; love accompanies us. Love can be there even if a future or a good report card is not. Joy can be there in spite of terrible grief or loss or heartache. Joy continues to be present, even though we know that next year there will be another tax return to complete. Today’s happiness is for a little while.
Jesus did not live and die to make us happy, but to embrace us in true joy. Joy is inclusive; happiness is often exclusive. Joy comes to people who face devastating illness, death of children or loss of jobs. Happiness comes to the competent and the fortunate. Joy has it’s arm around everybody.
We make our way through lent and wrestle with why we call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” because we know that our ultimate joy and goodness come to us as a gift from God alone. We can’t figure it out on our own. But, we also know how the story ends. Because of this, our joy can be complete.
Christ has risen. Christ has risen indeed.