I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. – John 15:11 (NRSV)
Jesus said these words. And as I glance back over the verses before and after this one phrase a few interesting things hit me. This is not a deep study – just a few thoughts of interest.
Before these words Jesus was talking about his disciples abiding in him and he in them.
He was asking them to abide in his love. We think of abide as living, dwelling, just being in his love, but I think it was more – there is this undertone of expectation. Jesus was calling his disciples to dwell in his love with expectation. Jesus doesn’t want his followers to just survive, he wants us to thrive – this isn’t just a clever little quip – he wants us to thrive – to grow fruit.
Jesus went on to talk about following his commandments. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
He then says: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Other versions say: that my joy may be complete.
Talking about joy – I recently spoke at a conference about joy with this definition:
Happiness is the emotion we feel because we like the circumstances.
Joy is the emotion we feel because we know God is with us in the circumstances.
Jesus knew that his death was close – and he was saying to his disciples your joy isn’t in the circumstances – your joy is complete when you abide in God – and know that God is with you in the circumstances.
Looking up the word “complete” I get this idea of crammed full. Can you imagine the conflict in the disciples hearts when they were in the middle of their grief and confusion, remembering that Jesus said their joy would be complete.
And this is the thing about joy – regardless of the circumstances the joy comes from the knowledge that God is with us. Jesus wanted his disciples to be so close to their heavenly father – to abide with him – that when stuff went down, they would know joy.
What a challenge to take into my life today.
Well, that’s the end of my 5 minutes of writing.
*5 Minute Friday is all about writing for 5 minutes on a given prompt – no editing. But I’m still thinking …
It is hard to be joyful in the hard things of life. Which is why it is really helpful to draw a distinction between happiness and joyfulness. Joyfulness is when our eyes are on Jesus – on who he is, what he has done, what he has promised.
Often I’m travelling along in life singing: This is the day that the Lord has made – and then all seems to crumble. One thing goes wrong after another.
The challenge to ask myself in that moment is: Has anything changed? Is this still the day that God has made? Sure it is – it just doesn’t feel like it.
Living by my feelings is one of the things that robs my joy.
Other things that steal my joy are:
- people pleasing
- pressure to perform
- misplaced priorities
- fear of the future
- regrets of the past
Each of these choices (for they are choices) are a by-product of me taking my eyes off who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he has promised and putting the focus onto me. Who I am, what I have done, or what I need to do.
When I abide with God, live with him, draw life from him, I will face my day with calm delight, cheerfulness, gladness – not because life is great but because God is great.
I can face today with calm delight
not because life is great
but because God is great!