Tony Campolo, “Visible Joy”
I seem to be particularly dangerous when I get on elevators. Our society teaches us to turn and face the doors and stand there quietly. But in my younger days, I loved to turn around and face the others in the elevator with me and say something like, “You’re probably wondering why I called this meeting.”
Once when I was in the elevator of a New York skyscraper filled with very serious-faced businesspeople, I smiled and said, “Lighten up. We’re going to be traveling together for quite a while. What do you say we sing?” Incredibly, they did! I don’t know whether they were intimidated by me or just wanted to have some fun, but businessmen with attaché cases in hand and businesswomen in their power suits joined me in singing, “You Are My Sunshine.”
When I got off at the seventieth floor, one man got off and walked down the hall with me, wearing a big smile on his face. I asked him, “Are you going to the same meeting I’m going to?”
“Nah,” he said. “I just wanted to finish the song.”
In Archibald MacLeish’s great play J. B., Satan is asked what he misses most about heaven, and he answers, “The sound of the trumpets!”
Indeed, to be in the presence of God is to be part of a glorious celebration. Sometimes that is hard to grasp when I’m in the pulpit looking at the somber faces of those in the congregation. I hear them say, “We know the joy of the Lord.” And I feel like saying, “Would you please notify your faces?”
Campolo, Tony. Let Me Tell You a Story: Life Lessons from Unexpected Places and Unlikely People (p. 55). Thomas Nelson.
Joy in the Church
If there’s one thing the enemy tries to use to counteract joy, it has to be sorrow. It’s important to realize that sorrow is as much a powerful weapon of destruction, as joy is for redemption. There are times when my prayer for the church is simply, “may the joy of the Lord be our strength.” There’s enough sorrow in the world already, what the world needs is a faith community willing to put it all on the line and live out what joy looks like, even in the midst of tragedy.
Joy in Philippi
As we begin reading in Philippians this week we need to keep in mind that the predominant theme of Paul’s letter is simply, joy. It’s incredible to consider that one of Paul’s “prison epistles” (The letters Paul wrote from prison) would include the concept of “rejoicing” and “joy” over sixteen times in four chapters! My prayer for each of you as we read Philippians this week is to be filled with the measure of joy that Paul communicates. That we too would experience the radiant, powerful, positive, and triumphant message of God’s redemptive work for us, in us, and through us!
Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT) 9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Happy reading, welcome to Philippians!