Thursday, 14 August 2008

Joy in you.

I've just finished meeting up with Greg, a friend of a friend (but now a friend in his own right) who works up at Mt Hutt. Greg and I catch up each week, share our lives, read the Bible together, and spend some time in prayer. We've been working our way through 1 Thessalonians, and came tonight to the end of chapter 3. Lots of things struck us (including what exactly was lacking in the Thessalonians's faith - 3:10), but one thing in particular. Paul is ecstatic about the Thessalonians' perseverance in the faith.

For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:8-9

We were both struck by the fact that we don't feel the same way about other Christians. Sure, I'm pretty happy when someone becomes a Christian, but my Christian life isn't marked by joy at other people's standing before God. And it's not just us - think about Christian songs of joy and praise that you sing - do any of them speak of joy in other believers? Joy in God. Joy in Christ. Joy in salvation. Yes. But joy because other believers are standing firm?

And that got us wondering. Why don't we have this joy? Surely here is an area of Christian experience that we are missing out on (to use very selfish language!) And we wondered if part of it is our strongly individualistic western upbringing. And it might also be our pomo relativistic worldview. But I wonder if for Christians part of the reason that we don't have this joy is because we are reluctant to really be involved in the lives of other believers. For if we get involved in their lives we'll see sin. Theirs and ours. And they might tell us about ours. And we might feel compelled to tell them about theirs. And then things might get messy. And so we don't get that involved in each others' lives. And so we miss out on joy. Joy which exceeds thankfulness. Joy which makes us 'really live'.

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