The Gospel of Luke gives the most detailed story of the birth of Christ and also the most detailed prescription for joy. Luke wants us to see that the story of the world meeting Jesus in the flesh is a story of the world finally finding full joy in God.
It begins with the birth of John the Baptist. The angel said to Zechariah:
“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. . . and he will go before him to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.” (Luke 1:13–17)
What is the significance of God coming to us and being with us? In this very act we see God’s powerful and engaging love. God was not content to love us from a distance. He desires to be with us … to be involved in the details of our lives. We also see Jesus’ birth as an act of God initiating this loving relationship.
And this loving relationship is for everyone – let earth receive – it’s for the poor, rich, young, old, all genders, all ethnicities, all the earth! God wants to be with you, wherever you are.
I like what this writer said about how many of us feel around the holidays:
Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say, Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
There’s a couple of ways to respond when you encounter joy.
One way is to act like so many of the antagonists we see portrayed in our favorite Christmas movies.
You can be a joy-killer.
One of the most popular Christmas characters is Ebenezer Scrooge, who tried to steal Christmas (and joy) from everyone around him, even those closest to him. Listen to the response Scrooge gave when his nephew announced that he was getting married because he had fallen in love:
“BECAUSE YOU FELL IN LOVE?!” GROWLED SCROOGE, “AS IF THAT WERE THE ONLY THING IN THE WORLD MORE RIDICULOUS THAN A MERRY CHRISTMAS.”
Whether it’s Scrooge, the Grinch, or Mr. Potter, whenever they encountered joy they actively tried to steal, kill, and destroy it. And it’s true that you and I have an enemy that the Apostle John refers to as a thief with the same mission to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus came that we might have abundant life (John 10:10)! Jesus also came to share his joy with us (John 15:11)!
Another way to respond to joy is to share it! Repeat the sounding joy! “For you, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands” (Psalm 92:4).
What about you? Are you a joy-killer or a joy-sharer? Some of us naturally share in others’ joy and invite others into our joy, but for others this takes some effort.
What are some ways you can share joy? Be intentional, especially during this season, to invite others into the goodness of the joy of the Lord.