We’ve come through another long winter and into the springtime where hope flowers afresh as the prospect of warm sunny days and the blossoming of new life is very near indeed. A joyful time when, having traversed the dark, cold days of January and February, a season of life and light is upon us. In the air of springtime with its rich smells of soil being turned over and the sweetness of flowers opening up to the sun, it can be easy to find joy at hand. But for the Christian, we have the capacity for deep, abiding joy no matter what the season or circumstance of life. The final value of our Gospel Culture in this series of blog posts is Joy. Let’s look at how the Gospel creates the ability to experience joy in every season.
Joy, as presented in Holy Scripture, goes beyond simply feeling happy that life is going well. It isn’t a general feeling of positivity that optimistic people enjoy. Christian joy is deeper and sweeter and more durable than that. Pastor and author John Piper provides a helpful definition of joy when he says:
Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world. (John Piper)
The Spirit causes us to see the beauty of Jesus Christ in his person, saving cross-work, and his creational beauty so that joy is produced in our souls regardless of our circumstances. Jesus himself delights to give us this joy, as he tells us in John 15:11
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (ESV)
Since joy not only grows out of a heart that is captured by Jesus, but is also commanded of us throughout Scripture (Ps. 97:12, Ps. 33:1, Phil. 4:4), how do we pursue this joy?
An essential component in the pursuit of joy is, of course, living in the good of the Gospel. It is daily remembering that Christ has purchased our joy in his substitutionary death on the cross. It is calling to mind that in Christ our sins are forgiven, we are adopted into God’s family, we have received the Holy Spirit, and our future is glorious. As we deepen our understanding and awareness of God’s grace in Christ, joy grows in our souls.
Rooted in that grace, we may well look around us and find all manner of reasons to be joyful. Our gracious God is generous and kind, he has given us family, friends, our church, chocolate, coffee, and music. He has left the imprint of his glory on the loveliness and immensity of his creation. But even if all is stripped away and we find ourselves in terrible suffering, God is present. His love, his care, his promise that he is bringing all suffering to an end in the day of Christ. Those realities can never be taken away from us.
 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Aren’t you happy that God has set his love upon you in Christ? Let the happy, unbreakable reality of God’s grace inform the way you view each and every day. Let the glorious truths of the Gospel produce in you a joy that stands outside of even your worst days. Let’s bring glory to Jesus Christ by cultivating the joy he extends to us by and through his grace. Let’s enter into a Gospel Culture of joy that reflects that Jesus truly has come and changed our lives forever.
If you’d like to dig deeper into this topic and the other values of our Gospel Culture, check out the sermon series I preached at this link