What’s missing in your life?
Normally this is a question asked of non-Christians. But I’m asking it of Christians.
Here’s why –
“When you consider the joys that God’s children can experience—and we haven’t begun to consider all of them—you wonder at two things: why more Christians aren’t rejoicing in their wonderful position in the family <of God> and why more unsaved people aren’t anxious to get into the family and start enjoying abundant life in Christ. Perhaps if the children of God were more satisfied and joyful, the children of this world might want to trust Christ and be born again. How we live is as much a witness as what we say.”
Yes, the question is normally asked of non-Christians – with the intent of getting them to convert and believe what we believe. But seriously – look at yourself. Are you an example of what someone else would want to be? Or are you just like the person you’re asking this question? Or – worse yet – would they see a move to your life as a step down and wouldn’t want to touch it?
So I’m asking – are you an example of someone that another person would want to be like? Are you full of joy? Are you joyful about what you have now – and especially full of joy over what’s to come? Or are you focusing on problems all the time? Or maybe so busy trying to keep your head above water that you don’t have time for joy? Or maybe your so afraid of everything that you just want to hide your head in the sand and pretend this world doesn’t exist? And then there’s the possibility that maybe you think the message of the Gospel is all about saving yourself – and that’s taken care of – so let everyone else save themselves?
Yes – look at yourself. Very closely. And, since you claim to be a Christian – pray about yourself. Are you living the life of a true Christian?
This is what Jesus said we should be like –
Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Are you like this?
So far, everything I’ve written has been about “you”. Not that I’m excluding myself. I’m not. I’ve been seriously looking at and praying about this issue of “joy” for a few years now. And came to the conclusion that I have had it for a while. But, as someone told me a couple years ago – I just didn’t realize it – didn’t know what it really meant. And they were right.
And then last night, I was reading this book – Be What You Are, by Warren Wiersbe. The quote at the top is from that book.
Looking at what he says in that quote, the question that stood out to me was – why aren’t we satisfied and joyful? I suspect I’m not alone as far as not really knowing what that meant. In this life we’re taught to pretty much never be satisfied – we always want more, and want more now! And how can one be full of joy when we’re always short of the goals that we need to attain in order to even be satisfied, let alone joyful?
And if that’s not bad enough – then we read this from James –
Jas 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Jas 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
And it gets worse –
Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Jas 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
And then finally – if we’re not totally turned off already – we read the “good” part –
Jas 1:16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
But what does that even mean?
No wonder there’s no “joy”.
Let’s look at being satisfied first.
Think about the Apostle Paul. At various times he wrote about boasting – and that we should only boast in the Lord, for anything good we do is really from Him. Well, remember earlier where we looked at salt and light. That salt and light should be His – not ours. Paul wrote about keeping that true in 2 Corinthians –
2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Yes – that’s Jesus telling Paul that His (Jesus’) grace is sufficient. His grace is all we need to be “satisfied”. Not satisfied in the way the world would define it – but in the way God defines it. Finally – being satisfied is possible. No more chasing after that “one more thing” – only to find out that it wasn’t really the needed thing, but now something else is needed. Like tomorrow – it never comes. Just like tomorrow turns into today – that one thing needed to be satisfied turns into the stepping stone for the next thing that we need to be satisfied.
But let’s not stop at being satisfied. Look what comes after that. for my power is made perfect in weakness Think about that one. By us becoming “weak” – His power is made perfect. So through us – He becomes more power in our lives than we could ever be by ourselves. Sounds incredible. And yet –
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I wrote about this the other day in how can it cost me nothing but ask me for everything? It questions whether or not we’re really ready to live life to the full – or are we afraid of the idea?
It turns out, the most exciting, productive, useful, and a whole bunch of other adjectives , life – is through Jesus.
To the extent that we fail to be the salt and light that Jesus talked about –
to the extent that non-Christians look at us and aren’t even interested in joining us –
we have to question to what extent are we truly following Jesus – allowing the Holy Spirit to live in us.
Yes- the Holy Spirit – of whom Jesus said the following –
Jn 16:5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Jn 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
Jn 16:16 “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
As David wrote in Psalm 51 –
Ps 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Ps 51:11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Ps 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Can you relate to the image at the top?
Is something missing?
Is there no satisfaction in your life?
Is there no joy in your life?
Is something preventing you from being an example that non-Christians would want to be like?
Consider the image below –
Maybe this is who should be in the missing piece. Sort of.
I’m talking all of God.
When we become Christians – we receive the Great Commission just as those in Jesus time –
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus didn’t say baptizing them in the name of God!
Jesus did say baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We have to believe that He named all three members of the Trinity for a reason.
In fact, Jesus often mentioned the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit separately as well. Like He was trying to teach us something. About each of them. And to leave one out – or to lump them all together when Jesus named them as individuals – is even that act of substituting “God” all the time instead of trying to learn about each member of the Trinity keeping us from something –
Like being salt & light?
Like living life to the full?
Like … ?
Like other things missing in our lives?
Pray about that.
And wait patiently for an answer. It will come.