By Jeff Johnson
The world can be depressing at times, but God wants His people to be happy. Over 20,000 Americans commit suicide each year. To some, life is simply not worth living. Often as we watch the daily news, the only thing we see is bad news. None of us want to hear or see bad news; we want to see and hear the things that make us happy. A former president of Harvard University said: "The world is looking for a creed to believe, and a song to sing."
Joy is the emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; it is gladness or delight. Christians in the early church rejoiced.
When we read Acts 2:46, we notice that the saints had glad hearts. They had daily teaching programs (5:42); they had consistent lives (2:42); but, most of all, they loved coming together for they had glad hearts.
Numerous examples fill the New Testament. Phillip, when preaching Christ in Samaria, caused great joy in the city (Acts 8:5-8). The eunuch went on his way rejoicing after his conversion into Christ (Acts 8:39). The disciples were filled with joy in Antioch (Acts 13:52), and the jailor rejoiced (Acts 16:34). The brethren had their trials, temptations, burdens, persecutions, and pressures of life but still found time to rejoice. They did not have wonder drugs and hospitals. They did not have the modern conveniences, but they did have the one thing that kept them going: God. God's people are urged to rejoice. Further examples are the saints at Philippi, who were told to rejoice (Phil. 4:4). The church was born in the midst of persecution. If they were in the Lord, they were fit for heaven (Col. 1:12). If they were in the Lord, they were redeemed from sin (Col. 1:14). They were then delivered from Satan's power (Col. 1:13), and they were chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:4), for they now had an inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).
The Thessalonian Christians were instructed to rejoice evermore (1 Thess. 5:16). The church in Thessalonica was born in the midst of persecution, but they could rejoice in spite of their problems, trials, and persecutions. Similarly, God's people at Rome could also rejoice in hope while they were patient in tribulation.
One thing to remember is that the angel brought "good tidings of great joy" when he told the shepherds that Jesus was born. During the last twenty-four hours of His life on earth, Jesus spoke often of joy and peace. Anyone who doubts that God wanted His creation to be happy should read the Genesis account of Eden before sin came. God did not mean for us to be miserable even though the bad news we see depicts the world at its worst. God simply wants His children to be happy. "Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." (Ps. 144:15).
- Jeff Johnson; via the Lake Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. Shane Robinson preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted through their website at http://www.lakehillschurchofchrist.org/