Encouragement From The Word

The wildest thing in the world

Last week, my wife forwarded a tweet to me that really resonated.  It was written by a writer and speaker named Kaitlyn Schiess.  She wrote:

A few days ago someone who is not a Christian said to me,

“If Jesus Christ really was raised from the dead, that is the wildest thing in the world
and I don’t know how you’d ever be able to get over that.”

She’s right, and I cannot stop thinking about how clearly she saw it.

Do you ever wonder what your friends who do not follow Jesus think about the claims he made, or the claims we make on his behalf?  In many cases, we simply view them as facts we have held dear for a long time, but in our holding dear, do you suppose we sometimes take these claims for granted?

The resurrection of Jesus – if it is true, as we believe it to be – is the most amazing thing ever!  It’s more amazing than flying to the moon, more amazing than a seaside sunset, more amazing than tiger tail ice cream (okay, that last one is a personal bias).  It is the most remarkable phenomenon that has ever occurred.  Ever.

It’s so remarkable that it affected time itself:  the world measures time based on the person of Jesus.  (A.D., after all, stands for anno domini – the year of our Lord – and even though many people choose to use C.E. nowadays, standing for ‘common era’, it still hearkens back to the fact that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection affected how we tell time.)

We are invited to live as a people of the resurrection, this world-altering phenomenon that so many of us simply take for granted.  It really is, as the writer’s friend said, “the wildest thing in the world.”

Yet many followers of Jesus seem to live as if they have gotten over it.  That’s a mistake.

We should live as the beneficiaries of the resurrection:  we are invited, not only to look forward to the eternal life that it bought us, but to live out the life and joy it brings us today.

When your friends look at you, do they see the joy of the victory of resurrection life in you?

Let’s live out the truth of what Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11.25-26a, NLT). 

Encouragement From The Word

Joy

Joy:  it seems so elusive to many people.  Why is that?

Sometimes, I think it’s because it easily gets confused with happiness.  In fact, sometimes even Bible translations confuse us on this matter, using “happy” when they mean “joyful”.  It may seem like angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin semantics, but in everyday language, I think we do well to keep the two terms distinct.

Think about it in terms of cultural sayings popular in the west:

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy [your favourite thing], and that’s the same.

Happiness depends on ourselves.

Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.

That last one comes from Ayn Rand, a Russian-American philosopher of the twentieth century.

We are a people who strive for happiness, and we often find it lacking something once we think we’ve achieved it.

There’s nothing wrong with being happy, but it can’t possibly compare with joy.  While, etymologically, the terms are connected, for followers of Jesus, there is a depth that comes with joy with which “the pursuit of happiness” just can’t compare.

Think about the special times in the life of church and family that are celebrated: what’s the common word that’s used, say, at Christmas and Easter?  “Rejoice!”  

That’s where joy comes from – rejoicing in the goodness of God.

We may think we have the right to be happy, but we have the privilege of joy.  Embrace it as a gift from God.

…the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8.10b, NLT).