BLOG 10/15/19. A GENTLE REMINDER: REJOICE
As enigmatic and contradictory as it may seem for me to raise this Biblical exhortation at this historical moment, I will anyway. Given the cloud of distressing news, the prejudices, the greed, the political cowardice, “man’s inhumanity to man,” the obscene exploitation of the environment, the indifference to the poor and helpless, … and-on-and-on, I want to remind myself, and my readers, that the scriptures instruct us to “rejoice always …”
Say what? Well, yes! This world scene has always been one in which there was social and political chaos, and suffering. And it is into this very context that Jesus was born, and at which event the angels announced: “Behold we bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all peoples, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord. “This announcement, mind you, was to minimum wage workers (shepherds) in an occupied nation with all kinds of questionable political and religious shenanigans were the norm.
So, an announcement of joy. To the early church came the teaching that they were to rejoice always, even in suffering/tribulation. This means that in the midst of cultural pessimism, of frequent despair, of humanly hopeless realities of vast global injustices and tens of millions of homeless refugees, of sickness in so many forms, we are called to be a people of joy!
Isn’t that wild?
Add another perspective to that: the church is the community of Go’s new creation people, and as such those who are the church are the “dwelling-place of God by the Holy Spirit,” … or as elsewhere it is said that they are the sweet aroma of Christ unto God. This incarnation that is ours as God’s new humanity is the living, breathing, flesh-and-blood presence of Jesus Christ in this broken world. And rejoicing always is only one of the expressions of Christ dwelling in our here-and-now scene. In Galatians 5, the apostle lists the fruits of the Spirit that are to be lived out by us in our 24/7 real-life setting.
Check this out: we become the missionary arm of the Holy Spirit as we are continually exhibiting Christ’s love, joy, peace-making, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is such new creation behavior that makes us God’s light in this present scene of darkness, springs in the desert. Those Spirit fruits, for me, are a daily ‘punch-list’ of reminder. I commend this to you.
So, my gentle reminder: rejoice.