The Command of Joy

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1)Here the Apostle is commanding the believers to have joy in the Lord.  How can that be a command?  We too often see joy as a response to something, but it is a decision that we must make.  So not to be joyful is disobedience.  All too often, believers walk around depressed, discouraged and just plain glum.  I think so often that has to do with our focus.Paul’s focus was on Christ, not on his accomplishments, or even all that he gave up to be a Christian (Philippians 3:2-8).  He focuses on Christ in a way that seems counter-intuitive for joy; he focuses on Christ’s death.  “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)”  His focus was not a morbid obsession, it was confidence in God.  Paul saw life through the lens of God’s eternal justice.  Though the Messiah had come, obeyed the Father perfectly, kept the Law completely, fulfilled the will of God fully; the Messiah was unjustly accused and mistreated.  The Messiah was killed by unjust people, but then as proof of his acceptance by God, Christ was raised from the dead.  We walk in joy, because no matter how much injustice we experience, no matter how unfairly we are treated, no matter when we are rejected for all the good that we do, our faith is in the God that raised Jesus from the dead.  And the promise, that we too will be raised in complete justification by the Judge of all the living.That is why Easter is the season of Joy.  The command to rejoice in the Lord, is not a denial of the pain of life, it is despite the pain of life.  This is not all there is.  We have faith in the God that raises us from the dead.Pastor Greg