Saturday, August 16, 2008

Delighting in God's Demands (Part 2)

Ok, here's the explanation. (You can look below to see the 2 poems)

As you may know, anytime we move past superficial conversation, we are always eager to talk about joy, "Christian Hedonism", in the Christian life. Most people unfortunately think that joy is like icing on the nice but still extra thing. Unfortunately, these people miss the many commands of God to delight in Him, even pouring wrath upon Israel because they "did not serve he Lord you God with joyfulness and gladness of heart" (Deut. 28:47).

What is also missed though is that joy is not merely the root that causes us to obey, but joy in Christ is also the fruit of obedience. It is the "bait" per say. How many of us would obey more if we saw how clear Scripture is on this point? If we are serious about having joyful, happy lives, would we not obey more? We are SO WRONG when we think obedience is a kill-joy. How many regrets do we all have for the various sins of our past and present? Anyways, I have been asking the Lord for some explicit Scripture on this point. Here's the text that inspired the poems:

2 Corinthians 1:24, 2:9, "Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for by faith you stand...For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything."

Notice the parallels. Paul's work among them, which obviously includes his writing to them, was for their joy. YET, ask the question, "How does Paul see this task of making them joyful people?" Paul equates their joy with standing firm, that is, by being obedient in everything.
In other words, Paul says, "I want them to be joyful Christians. Therefore, I need to do everything I can to make them wholly obedient Christians."

What an enticement! This is instructive both to us and for our work with others. We think financial security, people pleasing, or not feeling so tired will make us happy. Yet, Paul shows us an example of one who said "our bodies had no rest" (2 Cor. 7:5) yet we are "always rejoicing" (6:10). Are these the words we live by and offer to others? (We admit, we have rarely been so faithful and bold as to seek obedience as the only way to joy).
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