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Finding Myself in the Journey, Part 2

“The essence of the Christian life is learning to fight for joy in a way that does not replace grace.” (John Piper,When I Don’t Desire God)

The essence of anything is its most important element, or the thing that identifies its nature or quality. When embodied in its perfect form Christianity is a walk where one’s relationship with God is fully realized and the joy of God is present in daily living. The paradox in this statement is all Christ followers have this available but few are ever able to fully realize their potential. Christians do have a role model and that is Christ himself. It is he who we are to learn from as well as Bible authors and those around us who are finishing well. All such people that I personally know consider the walk a journey; and are active learners. Piper clearly says that the essence of faith is in learning and specifically “to fight for joy.” Learning is an attribute that the wise person is always pursuing and the Christ follower should be no different. The difference is what the Christian should be learning; and, further what this individual is doing with the knowledge. The Christian who learns and does not apply knowledge tends to become legalistic. I have seen many people who can recite scripture or can tell in detail what a Bible writer may have been attempting to impart; yet find little evidence of real change in behavior or their treatment of others. Piper states we are to “learn to fight for joy” and this pursuit is part of the essence of a believer’s faith. The question then becomes where does the believer find their joy? It is my opinion that it is only when we truly accept what Christ did on the cross that we are able to see the fullness, and feel the joy of Christ. It is here where we are to place our hope. So, it is my contention that joy is derived from hope – more hope equals more joy.” The apostle Paul said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, TNIV) He also said to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, TNIV) So then, joy comes from the overflow of hope; hope for eternal salvation, regeneration and eternal encouragement through the promises of God. (1 Peter 1:3 & Romans 15:4) Followers hope for Christ’s appearing, for redemption of their bodies, the consummation of righteousness and the inheriting of eternal life. This hope should produce the fruit of boldness, courage, and endurance. This hope should be present even in the face of many trials and difficulties. More next week.

Creed Branson, Executive Minister

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