JOY by Pastor Doug
  • St. Paul's UMC

JOY by Pastor Doug

Updated: Nov 10, 2019




Have you ever heard folks talk about the difference between "joy" and "happiness."?


This wise distinction (rooted in Biblical perspectives and the meanings of the original words used in Scripture) emphasize that happiness is rooted in circumstances whereas joy is rooted in relationships. For example, it is not unusual to visit a community of profound poverty and find there are people who are "happy." A closer look would point out that folks usually are happy not due to their circumstances, but due to the quality of relationships/community in which they are living.


How is the quality of relationships in the communities of your life?

I don't know about you, but the days when one could name the families in the 6 houses surrounding your own are pretty much over.


On average, of those 6 living next or at an angle of us, Americans know less than 20% by name. The neighborhood is still there. We just don't know each other.



Social clubs and organizations across the American landscape have all experienced precipitous decline. People want friends they can hang out with. Most Americans can name only a few.


So, it really becomes a bit of "chicken and the egg" for most of us. We long for joy, but joy is found, ultimately, in friendships and a real community. We tend not to do the work of friendship building, or maintenance, and so we should not be surprised by a growing lack of joy in our lives.


How is the "Joy Factor" in your life just now? Are you seeking the "happy hours" of your days, trying to substitute for the authentic and profound Joys of a true community?

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul says he finds their congregation to have a beautiful combination of both.


They have come into a faith of "deep Spirit":


"...Our Gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your safe." - 1 Thessalonians 1:5


They had found a joy of a profound relationship with Jesus - one that goes so deep it transforms a person's life all the way down to its cores.


In Chapter 2, verses 1-8, Paul describes the milieu of that Church. It practices Courage, Authenticity, Accountability, and Vulnerability. These are practiced, however, in a context of "investment" in the lives of each other.


"Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our lives as well."

- 1 Thessalonians. 2:7-8


What are you invested in?

You see, their faith was not about the "words of the Gospel" only. Their faith, their deepest joys, flow from becoming "invested" in each other's lives. More than just words, they shared their lives.


How is the "Joy Factor" in your life just now? Are you seeking the "happy hours" of your days, trying to substitute for the authentic and profound Joys of a true community?


Joy is rooted in becoming a community of persons who are investing in each other. Persons who begin to pour themselves into each other's lives - these are the person who are sharing hopes, dreams, tears, and prayers with one another. This is the Community of Joy that is the most dynamic voice we can have in post-Christian America.


#Joy #Community #Christianity




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