Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Joy and Delight

"Serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things," Dt 28.47.

"Delight yourself in the LORD," Ps 37.4a.

More than just about anything, this is what I want in a church. At its dead center is the Cross and the type of people whom the Cross creates -- people who delight in Jesus, and in each other, and who serve Jesus with joy and a glad heart.

There's a winsome piousness in people like this. Like infants in a wading pool, splashing about and delighting themselves in the Lord, their delight can't help but splash onto others, inviting them in as well.

I think this is one reason I find worship services in prison so compelling -- the joy and delight on the part of the guys in coming together as a forgiven community is almost palpable. They act as men who have lost almost everything, including their dignity, and then gained the world in gaining Christ. And they act like it. They delight in recognizing that they had nothing at all, and now they have everything.

God spare us all from having to learn the lesson in as costly a way as they learned it, but it's important to learn the lesson nonetheless. As members (mainly) of respectable, middle-class churches, we often do not realize that, despite our external affluence and our external dignity, we have nothing truly in this world. Looking at our external affluence, our eyes deceive us, blinding us to the fact that, in truth, we are "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Rev 3.17).

Not realizing that we have nothing, we then also neglect to realize the fullness of what we gain in Christ. And not realizing the fullness of what we gain in Christ, we do not have the same joy and delight that the prisoners have, even though we have truly gained as much as they, truly having lost as much as they. He who thinks he is forgiven little, after all, loves little in reply.

Respectable, middle-class churches nonetheless need to break through the patina of respectability that holds back expression of our joy and delight at having nothing of value in this world, but being given everything in Christ.


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