When you see the word “Joy!” on Christmas cards and decorations, do you flinch? Do you ask, “Where’s the joy?” So many do at this time of year. Does holiday joy seem artificial, forced and frantic? So many activities of the season hold the promise of joy but leave us feeling empty.
There is a reliable solution. But it’s not just for Christmas. It is a prescription for joy that lasts beyond the season, revealed in this teaching of Jesus:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-12)
Love is a primary ingredient, necessary for sustained joy. If you know in your bones you are truly and unconditionally loved, it changes your mood from the bottom up. Joy becomes possible despite circumstances that would otherwise sap it. So Jesus begins His lesson with a reminder that you are loved by God – really! The love Jesus extends to us is the same as the love God the Father extends to Him. How much does The Father in Heaven, the One Who is love, love His One and Only Son? That’s how much you are loved. Really understanding that is step one.
Step two is learning to experience that constant love. Jesus says if you keep His commands, you will “remain” in His love. The word, remain, means to make your home in or dwell in the experience of His love as a constant reality. Note that He did NOT say He wouldn’t love you if you didn’t do what He said. He said you wouldn’t “remain” in the experience of being loved. His love does not change based on what you do, your ability to experience this love changes. Love must be known, it must feel real and deep in order to produce joy. If you want to experience the love God has for you, get in step with how Jesus instructed us to live.
Jesus told us this for two astounding reasons. He wants our joy to actually be His joy. And, He wants for us to have joy that is complete. Unadulterated. Not faked for the season but bubbling up from within our souls in a sustained way. That’s my wish for you, too.
“Joy to the World, the Lord is come…”