Fighting daily for joy
Fighting daily for joy
Heaven is not a hall of mirrors where we like what we see, but the grand gift of self-forgetful joy in the glory of Christ.
In this present evil age, sin causes us to believe that life's greatest joys are found in being praised, affirmed, loved, and recognized. In our quest for lasting joy we work hard for promotions. We seek a bigger and better house to entertain guests. We promote ourselves beyond our actual ability in order to be recognized - all because we believe the lie that these things will give us the fulfillment we are seeking.
Though the acts of working hard, buying a home, or advertising our skills are not sinful in and of themselves, they become sinful when we use them to seek our highest and lasting joy, because Christ Himself is to be the sole source of our highest joy (Mark 12:30). The "American Dream" is in direct conflict with biblical Christianity for this very reason. These idols are presented as the source and the terminus of our joy, not as things that help us to exult in the Maker of them.
In the age to come, the American Dream will be completely replaced by Jesus' dream, because He knows that the deepest joy is not found in being praised, but in praising:
““Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me”
(John 17:24 NKJV)
Jesus is fighting for our greatest joy. His desire terminates in being with Him to see how glorious He is. This is why the great City of His dwelling is the "grand gift of self-forgetful joy in the glory of Christ". This is real. This is our future. And this has everything to do with joy (Revelation 21:4).
While the world seeks lasting joy in the face of self and never finds it, we can seek joy in the face of Christ now and keep it even through the age to come. This joy is not dependent on circumstances but on the unchanging glory of the Man at God's right hand, and this joy no one can take from us (John 16:22).
Though it's easy to retain this language in our rhetoric, finding joy in Jesus is immensely practical. We ask Him in prayer for grace to conform our lives to His. We deny ourselves, take up our cross, and die daily by not seeking joy in self-fulfillment. We ponder His life and His story, and we set our hope completely on the day we see Him here on the earth again. Until we see Him, this is how we fight for joy.
For much more on this topic, see this book by John Piper: Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist