“Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my father’s commands, and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15 vs 9
Before dwelling on the matter of ‘joy’, which is the main focus of this message, let’s first address the elephant in the room – “if you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.”
Is Jesus saying he will only love us if we keep his commands?
Not at all.
In-fact, the reality is that when we’re conscious of Jesus / God’s love for us, we are more likely to keep his commands. Just like an individual’s inherent desire to please someone he or she loves, when we’re conscious of God’s love for us we naturally want to do what pleases him; not because we want or need to earn his love, but because we know he loves us. In other words, we are far more likely to do as he instructs because we know he loves us and wants the very best for us.
It is the knowledge of his unconditional love that enables us to obey his commands. In short, focus less on obeying commands and far more on his unconditional love for you. After-all, Jesus died for you before you even knew him.
Now to the crux of this message – Joy.
According to an article written by Jessica Cassity, a health, fitness, and wellness expert, ‘scientists have determined that our happiness level is a result of a complex interaction of genes, behaviours, and life circumstances.’
“… a big chunk of how you feel is under your control, meaning the way you spend your time and the thoughts you allow to linger can really impact your mind and your long term happiness.”
A couple of Sundays ago, prompted by a wonderful St. Mary’s Watford church sermon, I went for a rather long walk in Cassiobury Park after brunch; and thanks to the lockdown, I was able to enjoy the wonderful surroundings of the golf course. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and at a certain point, I found myself on a sublime patch of grass surrounded by the most beautiful trees. I stopped for a few moments to take it all in, and as I surveyed the splendour around me, with birds singing and the air amazingly clean, the Lord told me something I pray I never forget.
“You have a place to live, your health is good, and you have food to eat. Stop thinking about houses and cars. The more you focus on the things of the world, the more unhappy you will be. The world can never have enough. Focus on doing what I have asked you to do and I will provide for you. Real joy and peace can only come from me – not from worldly things.”
During this period of lockdown, the air is suddenly so much cleaner, people are much nicer to each other, parents are spending quality time with their children, friends and family are checking on each other more frequently, and neighbours are being far more neighbourly. Indeed, there’s been more of a community spirit during the past few weeks than at any time in the past thirty years.
The reason is quite simple.
When we focus less on worldly things and more on what really matters – loving one another, health, looking after the environment, family, friends, kindness, friendliness, care – the world is not only a better place but we’re a heck of a lot happier.
Finally, as Christians, the key to our well-being is clear and simple – remaining in God’s love.
What does this mean?
There are four components of remaining in God’s love.
1. Remain in his Unconditional Love
Because of what Jesus has already done for you, God loves you always – no matter what
2. Remain in his Forgiveness
You have been forgiven once and for all for every single sin – past, present, and future. Rest in this truth.
3. Remain in his Mercy
Be rest assured in his mercy – renewed every morning.
4. Remain in his Righteousness
You are forever righteous because of what Jesus has already done for you, not because of anything you can do. It is finished, and it is complete.
Joy is a choice.
We can choose to remain in God’s love, which leads to complete joy, or choose not to.