"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11).
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)
"Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy." (Psalm 47:1)
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him the glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7)
"A Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot." (St. Augustine)
"Every Discipline should be characterised by carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving." (Richard Foster)
"Joy is the end result of the Spiritual Disciplines’ functioning in our lives." (Richard Foster)
"Joy is the serious business of heaven." (C.S. Lewis)
Richard Foster explains why he tackles the Discipline of Celebration last in his book Celebration of Discipline: "Joy is the end result of the Spiritual Disciplines’ functioning in our lives. God brings about the transformation of our lives through the Disciplines, and we will not know genuine joy until there is a transforming work within us. Many people try to come into joy far too soon. Often we try to pump up people with joy when in reality nothing has happened in their lives. God has not broken into the routine experiences of their daily existence. Celebration comes when the common ventures of life are redeemed."
Joy grows as our relationship with God deepens. This is why it is related to obedience (see John 15:9-11), trust and thanksgiving (see Philippians 4:4-7) and is seen as part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). In Celebration we focus on the good things that come from God and respond to them with joy and singing and shouting and laughter.
The benefits of Celebration (from Foster, ch. 13)
- It saves us from taking ourselves too seriously
- It helps us relax and enjoy the good things of the earth
- It can be an effective antidote for the sadness that can overcome and constrict the heart
- It gives us perspective – laughter is a great leveller
- It tends to lead to more celebration
Questions to Consider and Things to Try
Some suggestions from the small group course accompanying John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted:
- Practice the discipline of celebration by doing activities that bring you pleasure – being with people you love, enjoying good food, etc., and reflecting on the God who has given you such wonderful gifts. Try setting aside one day a week to do this.
- Find a “joy mentor” – intentionally spend time with life-enhancing, “joy-carrying”, “joy-producing” people. Prize them. Thank them.
- Pray for joy – pray that the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of joy in your life in greater abundance.
- Unplug the television for a week – instead of seeking “rest” in front of the television, nurture conversation with family and/or friends, think new thoughts, sleep more, read more, etc.
- Discipline your mind to view life from a biblical perspective – how much more joy might you have if you viewed all events in the light of Jesus’ resurrection and his ultimate triumph?
Some Scriptures to Consider
- Exodus 15:1-21 – Moses celebrates God’s rescue
- 2 Samuel 6:1-23 – David and the bringing of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem – is celebration always appreciated?
- Luke 4:18-19 – what does Jesus’ ministry have to do with joy and celebration?
- John 15:9-11 – what is the link between joy and obedience?