One of the risks of public speaking is getting carried away by words. So this past Sunday, in reference to 1 Peter 3:15 I was talking about how Christians should be known as a people of “hope”. So far so good! But in the middle of encouraging my people to have hope I did a verbal switcheroo and began to talk about joy. I said that a “joyless Christian should be an oxymoron”.
And although this statement is in many ways true, a more fundamental point can be made by sticking with the original word. The phrase, “hopeless Christian” is an oxymoron!
At the very core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, is that we have received a hope that cannot be touched by the things of this world. It is this hope that enables Christians to endure suffering, hardship, and loss in this world with patience and grace. It is this hope that fuels love for a world that often despises and hates. It is this hope that will cause some to ask, “why so much hope?”
Joy is related but not the same. Joy is a product of applied hope. I stand by my original statement that a “joyless Christian should be an oxymoron”. But in real life, depression, hardship, forgetfulness, and busyness often crowd out our ability to reflect adequately on the reasons for hope.
If we go through our day without thinking about the amazing love of God given to us at the cross, we will be less prepared to face hardships with joy. If we become too busy to consider God’s love we will lack joy.
But let me suggest that hardships, forgetfulness and busyness are spiritual issues that can be addressed by choices in our heart and mind. Depression on the other hand, is an issue that must be addressed in a different way. The person struggling with depression certainly should look to God’s Word! They should certainly seek godly counsel. They should remember the cross and the great love of God for them, but they should also seek professional assistance.
The reason for this blog, is the reality that in my zeal for joy I swapped words and shifted my point. Peter took for granted that the Christian holds to the hope that God will indeed fix the mess of this broken world. But it is completely possible for a variety of blockades to come between the hope and the joy of a Christian.
Consider what might be blocking you from moving from hope to joy. What steps could you take to remove those barriers?