Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.’
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.’
Today we are being challenged to reflect upon Jesus’ use of the word joy. In a dictionary you will find ‘joy’ defined as intense gladness, rapture, delight, rejoicing and exultation. The Greek word which translates into ‘joy’ is chara which also describes a feeling of inner gladness, delight and rejoicing. Whether we think of Jesus’ words as they were originally recorded in classical Greek, or whether we think of them in everyday English, we need to remember that Jesus is using a superlative! There is nothing wishy-washy or ambiguous about the word chara or joy. This word is about something that should be rooted in our hearts and, therefore, direct all that we say and do in Jesus’ name.
Today’s reading opens with these words: As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. If we take these words to heart, if we believe that Jesus loves us, we need to consider how we can feel anything other than chara or joy. The Saviour of the world, God’s own Son, came into this world to bring us into a new relationship with his heavenly Father. The depth of Jesus’ own relationship cannot be doubted, it permeates every word of the gospel narrative. Jesus is offering us a similar level of intimacy … and joy!
Too often, as we look at the Church around us, we struggle to see joy. We see concerns about money; we see concerns about empty pews; we see concerns about disengagement between Church and community … we see all sorts of negative things, but we often have to struggle to see joy. We see those who treat the Church as their own personal fiefdom, dictating how worship should be shaped and conducted; we see those who hold church communities to ransom through their intransigence and aggression; we see those who feel the joy of their faith suppressed by those who use belittling and degrading language. But … as Jesus makes perfectly clear … all that he said during his earthly ministry was said so that … joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
Today we are being challenged to set aside the negative, the combative and the world-centred. Today we are being challenged to step out into the world in the joy of knowing that we abide in Christ’s love. Today we are being challenged to show the world that, in Christ, our joy is, indeed, complete.