It’s week three of Advent. A week to focus on joy. The joy that comes from anticipating the arrival of Christ’s birth.
But ironically finding joy in Christ during the Christmas season, is often hard. Especially when there is so much competition for our affections.
So how do we find our joy in Christ, even in the midst of our market-driven society?
Here’ s three steps that I think can help:
1. WE START BY FORGETTING ABOUT OURSELVES
John Piper writes,
“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”
2. THEN WE TRUST THAT JESUS IS THE BETTER JOY
St. Augustine, speaking of Jesus, wrote in his Confessions,
“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure.”
3. FINALLY WE WORSHIP
As Bishop N.T. Wright put it,
“When we begin to glimpse the reality of God, the natural reaction is to worship him. Not to have that reaction is a fairly sure sign that we haven’t yet really understood who he is or what he’s done.”
So this Christmas season don’t let the commercials, and the stress of buying stuff, steal your joy. Instead give yourself permission to lose yourself in the person of Jesus Christ, thinking about who he is and all he has done. Allow Jesus to take away your affections for lesser pleasures, and begin to fill your heart with deeper affections for himself. Then worship. Wherever you are, even if you must begin with whispers, praise him for everything you can think of.
Then you will find joy.
Allen, I just love your posts! My daughter goes to 2/42 in Brighton and I asked what her sermon was on this past Sunday. She simple said “joy”. I thought I haven’t heard about joy! Yes, we feel joy but it is not always about Jesus being born but the gift exchange and family being together. You have written about joy like I never heard it before. Thank you and look forward to your next post. Linda Goraj
Linda, thanks so much for your encouraging response.