I don’t, in any way want to suggest the resurrection power of Jesus is just about surviving difficult times. It is also about living with joy, even in the midst of our trouble. In, fact, the resurrection power of Jesus is what drives us on as believers and the church.
You may be familiar with the Irish Christian Band Rend Collective. I like something a member of the band said recently in an interview: “We made a recent theological breakthrough as a band and it has changed everything about our approach: seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit …but joy is. There is an irrepressible laughter in the heart of God and this record is an attempt to reflect this as a worshipping community. We think joy is an underemphasized aspect of God’s character. He is the One who invented and even commanded holidays and feasting; who celebrated the first wedding with Adam and Eve; who sings over us and rejoices over us. Jesus’ first miracle was to provide wine to keep a party alive. In His telling of the parable of the Prodigal Son, He uses an extravagant party as a picture of grace. Hebrews even tells us that Jesus suffered the cross ‘for the joy set before Him.’ The culmination of all history is described in terms of celebration – the marriage of Christ and His church.”
Not long ago I conducted a funeral service in our church facility. I met an older lady in a fashionable hat who was standing near our guest table. She told me about the walks she used to take with the deceased in a nearby trailer park he managed. On their walks they talked about scripture, but also about the need people have to know the joy of the Lord. This dear lady had a special ministry to families affected by HIV/AIDS. She handed me a card with her name on it, along with the name of her ministry, the “Blessing Hands Outreach Ministry.” There was a scripture on the card (Deuteronomy 15:10-11), which read: “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” I will always remember how much joy she displayed as she was telling me about her ministry, even as she came to honor her friend.
Some people think Christians have joy because they are ignoring reality. I say, the exact opposite is true. The reality is we are here for a short time, and once we realize we were put here by God for His purposes, then we start to see all of our experiences in life differently. We give, share and love because we want others to know the good news.
This life is not all there is, and while we are here, we can have a relationship with God that brings us joy. We don’t have to be crushed by our sins, but we can crush sin and its trouble with the name of Jesus. He has risen from the dead, and has proclaimed victory over sin and death.