“Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, ‘This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others.’” – Luke 2:34 (NLT)
Is Jesus your greatest joy? Have a serious think about it for a minute. When I began to think deeply on this question, I found out a few things about myself I wished weren’t so. If you’re being honest, you may find the same. Here’s a little peek at some of the thoughts you may have to contend with:
So you want me to find joy in a person I can’t even see or physically hang out with? It can be extremely difficult to craft a relationship with someone you cannot physically see or hear. It's one of the reasons why many of us fail to reach a point in our relationship with Jesus where we can truly say he is our greatest joy. Jesus, while he was on earth, was a living example of how humans should engage God. He spent many hours, most of them late in the night and early in the morning, sequestered on a hillside or some other separated place, talking to God. He went after God’s Presence. He waited to hear what God had to say. He valued every word and every vision from God and wouldn’t move without his guidance. Jesus couldn't physically see or hear God in those moments, but he was able to be intimate with God, nonetheless. To find our greatest joy in Jesus, we’re going to need to get closer and go deeper. We need to engage Jesus like he engaged the Father even though we cannot physically see or hear him. Only then will we truly be able to experience the joy of Jesus.
Am I finding joy in Jesus or in what Jesus is providing? There’s nothing wrong with deriving joy from seeing and experiencing the provision of God, but if we don’t value the Provider above the provision, problems are bound to arise. Fixating on provision has a way of making an idol out of it. We begin to elevate the thing God has given us above God himself. When we become fixated on provision, we don’t even remember what Jesus had to go through to make us eligible for the blessing, favor and prosperity of God. We look right past Jesus. How can you find joy in a person you aren’t even seeing? We need to take the time to move our gaze from God’s hand to his son. By spending time in the Word reading about what Jesus’ sacrifice did for us and taking time to meditate on the extreme love required to reconcile us to God, we can be moved to find joy in Jesus.
To receive Jesus as my greatest joy I may have to address my inability to feel truly loved by him. It is nearly impossible to receive joy from a person if we aren't feeling loved by them. Sure, it may work for a while, but eventually the lack of love will betray our joy. Being loved is a basic human need. A disconnection in the flow of love will ultimately mean a disruption in our ability to receive joy. When we’re disconnected from the love of God we begin to have self-defeating thoughts: Does he think I’m a bad person? Am I doing enough for him to think I’m good? Will he stop taking care of me if I don’t “pull my weight?” Failure to experience the love of God makes us self conscious and insecure. We cannot apprehend joy when we are self-conscious and insecure. We need the love of God to free us from ourselves so we have the ability to truly feel worthy to receive from him. When we can freely give and receive love with Jesus, we will find our greatest joy in him.