The English Language is weird!
No two ways about it. For as long as I have spoken, my language has always been English. To my shame, I have always struggled when it comes to learning other languages. Over the years I have tackled French (c’est une catastrophe), I was hopeless at Hebrew and Greek was all Greek to me. English is the only language I have ever mastered and English is weird!
This fact has really been brought home to me over the last few months. We have a young German youth worker on placement in our Church at the moment. I am, effectively, his line manager and we meet regularly for chats as well as developing his work. I can say something that makes perfect sense to me, however to him, it means something entirely different. I now have to think carefully about the words I use and the context in which I set them.
So take, for example, the sermon I preached in Church yesterday morning. I used as the key word “Joy”. The sermon was based around Ezra chapter 6 where the Bible says;
Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.
(Ezra 6 vs. 16)
What does “joy” mean? Are you the sort of person that could be described as “joyful”?
In much popular thinking, joy is equated with happiness. Some people would describe joy as exceedingly happy or happiness over an extended period. For some Christians joy is characterized as a “hallelujah anyway” and the ability to smile through whatever difficulty life throws at us.
I have come to the conclusion that is wrong!
The Bible is not silent about the difficulties of life and the Messiah is described by Isaiah as;
…a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
(Isaiah 53 vs. 3 NLT)
But I do believe that Jesus was a man who was full of joy. Let’s face it, nobody wants to follow a misery guts, yet people must have seen something in Jesus that was worth following. I think that, in part, it was the joy that Jesus had and still has.
To help me get to grips with happiness and joy I read this in www.psychologies.co.uk/joy-vs-happiness
Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events.
Christian joy is not grounded in ourselves, it is grounded in Jesus and in all that He has done for us. Because of Jesus, we have can have peace and confidence in the relationship with God we were created to live in. Jesus joy was grounded in His relationship with His Father. That is what, I believe, people saw in Him and wanted to find out more.
Rather controversially, I did suggest in my sermon that there were two things that should characterize a Christian.
The first is love. Love of God, of each other and even our love for ourselves (see Matthew 22 vs. 39, Mark 12 vs. 31, Luke 10 vs. 25 – 28)
The second characteristic is joy!
Perhaps, I need to do some more work on both of these. How about you?