“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
Romans 5:2 NLT
Paul mentions that word again – “faith”. So much can be achieved through that word and all that is behind it. He mentions that “faith” brings us to a place of undeserved privilege. Now in this life, privilege is something only rarely granted. We usually have to work for it, or pay for it with our hard-earned money. That is, of course, unless we were naturally born into what we refer to as a privileged family. But we know that when we accepted Christ, believing in all that He did for us, we were spiritually born into God’s family, a family far more significant and privileged that any natural family could ever be. And through God’s grace such a birth was and is undeserved.
This place of privilege in which we now find ourselves is transforming in its extent and scope. There is the benefit of being in God’s Kingdom here on earth. A place where we have abandoned lives of sin and adopted righteous living instead. A place where we can share God’s grace and love with those around us, doing God’s missionary work in a lost and deluded world. A place where we can drop in when we want to, to spend quality time with our Heavenly Father, worshipping at His feet. But Paul wrote that there’s more to come. Over the horizon, but on our radars nevertheless, is God’s glory. And He will share it with us. How amazing is that? Through our faith we have confidence that it is coming. Perhaps sooner than we think.
How does that make us pilgrims feel? Excited? Joyful or sad? Whatever we feel about our lives today, the life to come, eternally in God’s presence, is going to be “immeasurably more than we can … imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). And joy beyond anything we have experienced will be found there.
What is this “joy”? People often confuse it with happiness, but it’s totally different to that. The dictionary definition of “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” doesn’t come anywhere near what true Godly joy really means. The joy we experience as Christians comes from a connection with God. We feel joy because of what He has done for us and for what He will do for us in the future. We feel joy because of our salvation, the fellowship with other believers, and the promise of eternal life with God in Heaven. The list of joy-sources is endless. But we can also experience joy in a prison cell, persecuted by an evil state. Joy is more than a feeling. It is a deep assurance that God is close to us, loving us, providing for us. It may manifest in an outward expression of praise and worship. In Acts 16 we read about the desperate situation Paul and Silas found themselves in. Because they cast a demon out of a slave girl, “They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening” (Acts 16:23-25). How could they do that? Because they were full of joy. A joy founded in the fact that there was nothing other human beings could do to them that would destroy their relationship with God. They experienced the same joy that Nehemiah knew about. We read in Nehemiah 8:10, “And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!””
So, fellow pilgrims, are we full of joy today, or are we overcome and miserable because of our circumstances? Full of Godly joy, we can rise above all that is going on in our lives and around us. Regardless of our situation in life we can still be joyful in our amazing Creator God. We read in Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Dire circumstances for a farmer, don’t we agree? But nothing was going to take away Habakkuk’s joy, and it won’t take away ours either.
Dear Father God. You are the Source of our joy. We worship You today with grateful hearts. Amen.