If everything you love and hold dear was taken away from you tomorrow, could you still have joy?
Every single day we are inundated with “gospels” that tell us what we need to find true lasting joy. Tyler McKenzie, lead minister at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville KY has compiled a list of some of these popular “gospels” that each of us are tempted to put our hope and trust in:
The Pursuit of Happiness
Make America Great Again
Living the Dream
The American Dream
Restore the Soul of America
The Good Life
And the list could go on. Every single day, we have thousands of companies, individuals, and thought leaders competing for attention and our loyalty. And if we can just climb to the next level of society, if we can just buy this latest technology, or this new car, then we can be happy and have true joy.
But how’s that working out for you? As you continually climb the ladder of societal success, have you found more joy? Or are you still chasing it?
Paul, the apostle, had everything. He had status, power, and reputation. But he learned that those things didn’t matter. They promised joy, but they left him empty. Instead, Paul had learned a secret about joy that many of us would do well to learn as well.
Paul had learned that the secret to joy lies in something beyond what this world can offer. Here’s how he puts it in his letter to the Philippians:
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little (Philippians 4:11-12).
Paul lets his readers know that no matter his circumstances, whether he has plenty or nothing, he’s found the secret to joy no matter what. Isn’t that something we all long for? A secret to joy that isn’t stolen by a pandemic or political unrest? A secret to joy that isn’t tied to a political leader or the success of any particular political party? A secret to joy that isn’t in bed with wealth and power?
If Paul has a secret that promises joy in all circumstances, then I want in on the secret. Lucky for us, he shares it with us.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
Ahhh… This famous verse. The one that is often taken #straightouttacontext. Notice how the meaning of this verse changes in light of Paul’s circumstances. This verse isn’t about learning to fly or winning the game… Paul’s secret to joy is about staying close to Jesus who gives him strength to endure every situation in life. Paul’s secret to joy is THE GOSPEL that promises perfect love with God the Father for all of Eternity.
And when that is your goal and purpose in life, you can have joy no matter what… Because the worst thing that could happen to you is death. But death, in the kingdom of God, leads to resurrection and eternal love with the Father.
So, if you want true lasting joy, you won’t find it any of the “gospels” listed above… It will only be found in the world changing love of Jesus. Cling to that and you’ll find joy.