Joy To The World vs. Joy From The World

Definition of JOY

1: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: delight

2: a state of happiness or felicity: bliss

3: a source or cause of delight

One of my favorite Christmas movies is “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase. Why do I like that movie? Actually that is really a good question. Besides the fact that I like humor, I guess I laugh at the fact that “Clark”, the main character in the movie, has his Christmas vacation all planned out. Family cutting down the Christmas tree together. Him and his son decorating the house with lights. Beautiful Christmas dinner with family. Singing carols together. And surprising the family by using his Christmas bonus to purchase a swimming pool. But, as the movie progresses, none of his plans pan out the way he thought they would. What happened? He forgot to bring the saw to cut down the tree, so they had to dig it up (roots and all). The lights did not light after he stapled thousands to the house. His, more than strange, cousin Eddie makes a surprise visit that changes everything (more like wrecks everything). His tree catches fire in the house. Christmas turkey tastes horrible. And, his boss decides not to give him the Christmas bonus that he was expecting. All in all, it is a really funny movie because nothing seems to go right.

Now, most of us do not encounter things like that, at least to that extreme. But, often our plans are changed by uncontrollable variables. This brings stress into our lives because the vision we had was destroyed. No one likes it when their plans are changed, because we believe that our plans are the best because they are ours. We want things to go our way, for when it does it brings us joy.

But, life happens, doesn’t it? Kids get sick. People lose jobs. Cars break down. Friends move away. Economy slows down. House needs repairs. Bills have to get paid. Health begins to fail. Retirement fund is not high enough. Etc. etc. etc.

While we can get joy from this world, like from the birth of a new baby, or getting married, buying a new home, getting a promotion, going on vacation, hanging out with friends, seeing your kids succeed, completing a difficult task, etc. etc. etc., none of those things, while wonderful and great, are not permanent. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:24-25, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” These things bring us great joy, but it is temporary. They are meant to point us to the One who gives everlasting joy, the Lord.

So, joy, real and everlasting joy, is possible for the single mom who struggles to make ends meet. It is for the man who just lost his wife to cancer and now has to raise his young children by himself. It is for the poor and homeless who do not know where their next meal is coming from. It is for the rich who is tired to worrying about the security of his wealth. It is for the single person who always wanted to be married, but has yet to meet “the one.” It is for the business man or woman who is tired to climbing a corporate ladder that does not seem to have a top. It is for the party person who has realized that one night stands no longer satisfy their desire for companionship. It is for all who see that real, satisfying, and lasting joy does not come “from” this world, or certain circumstances, or bank account balances, or people, or getting the Christmas present of your dreams. All that is fading like grass. It is for those who see that joy has come “to” the world in the Person of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, and that knowing Him is wonderful and satisfying, and beautiful, and powerful, and complete. Jesus said, in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and your joy may be full.”

The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” What did Paul find? He found a treasure worth trading everything for: knowing Jesus. Joy “to” the world, the Lord has come!

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