god wants to wreck your life :: pursue joy :: part 1

September 29, 2011 — 9 Comments

 

Now we’re getting at the heart of it.  The heart of ALL of it.  This is what I believe to be true of God in the deepest corners of my heart.  Scripture screams it out.  My life rings with it.  This is what I believe.

God wants us to passionately pursue JOY.

What?  Wait… the church has always told me I need to take up my cross, count the cost, follow the rules, I surrender all… right?  Loving God requires letting go of what I want so that I can do what God wants… right?

Right.  God wants your life to ring with joy.

A relationship with Jesus is not about what we sacrifice for Him, or a new set of rules that rob us of freedom.  JOY!  Christian faith and life is about being set free to pursue the deepest joy imaginable.  THAT IS GOSPEL.  That is why I want to be a Pastor.  It is my heartbeat.

I’m in a seminary class right now on Christian Ethics, which has been pointing us again and again to the sovereign authority of the God’s Word as our moral construct.  Depending on your life story, that statement might either make you do a little internal cheer and fist-pump for Jesus, or it may totally make you squirm… like I’m going to get my rulebook all up in your business.  Fist-pumpers and skeptics alike can take a breath, because I’m not going into “why my morals are better than yours” mode.

We have been discussing alternatives to Biblical morality… hedonism, for example.  The pursuit of pleasure as the determiner of what is right and wrong.  I think hedonism devoid of Christ is just empty staggering toward regret and isolation and death.  Pleasure is a gift of God, sure… but it’s fleeting.  The moral construct of the Bible is rooted in something far deeper.  But again, this isn’t a post about right and wrong, per se.  It’s about why we ARE in the first place.  Why we exist, and the reason for Jesus’ coming to earth.  This is the deep down stuff of life… not just the rulebook.

To my heathen friends (insert winky face here), you non-churchy ones out there, my guess is this post most likely won’t ruffle your feathers too badly.  As long as I’m not too pushy on whole right and wrong thing, you’ll probably be able to ignore this one.  You’d be missing out… but the choice is yours.

On the other hand, it’s my solidly entrenched churchy friends who may take me to task today.  I think I’m going to say some things here in the next few days that buck against the way Christians think.  So give me a minute here while I pull my bulls-eye t-shirt out of storage.  You can load up.  Putting it on now.  And here we go…

(1)  God is wildly, passionately, zealously, jealously committed to the glory of His own name.  This stands in contrast to the misconception we have growing up in church believing that God’s love and Jesus’ ministry is focused primarily on US.

(2)  Far from being a hyperbolic cosmic ego trip, this truth is the most wildly loving foundation possible for our relationship with Him.

(3)  BECAUSE God is so passionately God-focused, He has made us and redeems us in order that we might find our ultimate fulfillment in the the praise of His glory, at all times, right now and thoughout eternity.

(4)  This is the greatest possible news.  This is pure gospel.  That we have been created to and saved not unto begrudging servitude, but unto the passionate pursuit of JOY.  Not mere pleasure, or happiness which is fleeting, but a pursuit of soul-thrilling JOY that deepens and expands forever into the infinite glory of God.

(5) Far from making Christianity all about US, this truth reveals that the polar opposite is true… God receives greater glory as we find greater JOY in Him.  The intrinsic purpose of God and the created purpose of man find their mutual fulfillment in our making much of God.  Our joy is found in His glory!

My heart is beating fast for this.  Do you see that this changes EVERYTHING?  Maybe if you are skeptical about religion this just sound like a bunch of church-speak hoo-haw.  I get that.  Let me break it down for you…

It’s true… God wants to wreck your life.  He’s up front about that.  This is no bait and switch.  If you’re not pursuing ever-deepening joy in Him alone, you’re missing out.  God wants to wreck your life to give you a better one.  He literally wants you to experience life-changing joy forever.

These are truths that are repeated again and again and again throughout the Bible, and the five points above work together to create a latticework of interdependant truths that help me understand the foundation of my faith and ministry passion.  They are simply too profoundly significant for me to adequately cover in one blog post.  Or in a hundred blog posts.  Or in a hundred books.

But over the next several days, I’ll take a look at these truths point by point.  This Christian life is a joyful adventure, not begrudging service in order to secure an eternity outside of hell.

God wants you to pursue JOY.  I believe that as deeply as I believe anything in my life.  Maybe you needed to hear that today.  Maybe your whole life is about to change…

Click here to go on to part two…

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

9 responses to god wants to wreck your life :: pursue joy :: part 1

  1. Hey Josh,

    I do not want to take you to task about this, so please take this as a discussion, not as a sledgehammer being secretly raised behind your head and if I give the nod it drops crushing all your hopes and dreams…a little to graphic, maybe. 🙂

    Is the pursuit of Joy the be all end all, or is it the pursuit of Christ which brings joy the be all end all. Both involve joy, but when our focus is on Christ vs. joy, we have set our eyes upon that which does not change. Joy can be fleating, and it is a struggle to maintain joy, but if my eyes are upon Christ, I find that I’m able to press on when I don’t have the joy that I desire to have, which then leads to joy after the fact. Maybe a circuler in my reasoning, but I think the distinction is worth discussing.

    I’m the last one to say that we need to all be glumb Christians, but I find it all joy when I set my eyes upon Christ. I set my eyes upon the source, Christ, the joy follows. Maybe I’m jumping the gun and that’s where you’re going with these posts already, oops, just thought of that.

    Intrigued to see the rest.

    • Hey brother! By all means, take me to task! There is no crushing of hopes and dreams here. 🙂 Good lively discussion makes for clearer thinking. So I love the press back.

      You are, of course, correct… The title may be JUST A LITTLE bit of a misnomer, because you are right that JOY is a product of our relationship with Jesus. However, I am convinced that it is not a selfish pursuit to pursue our joy in God, because that is the only place lasting joy is found. You are correct, by the way, that I will flesh this out in the coming posts. Either way, I love that you brought this to the surface now. LOTS of my friends in the church are thinking it… some variation of, “I like Skogerboe’s enthusiasm, but I think he’s a little off target here. I think he’s in danger of seeking the feeling and not the God who gives the feeling…”

      Rest easy. 🙂

      Christ and Christ alone brother! He is a fountain of JOY, and I want HIM, and in wanting Him, I want joy… and that’s not bad.

      Quick reminder when you talk about the fleeting nature of joy… Do not think I’m talking about “happiness” or “pleasure” or “enjoyment” here. Joy sustains through heart-breaking grief and back-breaking labor and mind-numbing study and happiness-crushing relationship breaks… Joy is tied to faith. Joy is different than good feelings or good times or soul-stirring energy. Joy is lasting, deep, and strong. God-given joy only comes from Jesus, even when all we have is Jesus, and he is enough. With Him comes joy. Just be sure to understand that what I’m advocating here is a life given up… “wrecked” by God wherever and whenever necessary… for something MORE. And that something more is JESUS. And with Him is fullness of JOY.

      More to come in a further post. I love your heart, Jason. God bless your family and your ministry! Praying you have a fresh surge of JOY fueling all you do, man.

  2. High five or fist bump or whatever the cool kids do these days. This resonates sweetly with the circa 1984 Miles J. Stanford book I was reading this morning … Principles of Spiritual Growth. You’re writing rests in the ranks of the classics, yet it’s all digital …. weird.

  3. I’m with you on this and it’s a very timely post personally … Choose Joy was my friend Sara’s motto & she lived her life this way. She was asked How She Stays So Happy and this was her response: http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-do-you-stay-so-happy.html

    She went Home recently, but how she lived and the way she wrote about her life well-lived, carries on. Joy has spread because she radiated it and it came from a place of satisfaction in Christ. I believe she was dedicated to, as you said, the “pursuit of soul-thrilling JOY.”

    Thanks for your honest writing and sharing where you are.

    • Thanks for posting this Mela. Yes… I see this in Sara, too. I can’t imagine the kind of unencumbered JOY she is exeriencing right now.

      I always love having you in on the discussion here. Hopefully we can find a time to have you come and sing at Living Hope this year. That would be the berries. 🙂 God bless!

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