I enjoy a good round of tennis, a day on the slopes, a good football game, a good book and (especially) a good meal. I enjoy fast computers; they make me smile. I enjoy a good joke; it makes me laugh. I enjoy a stimulating conversation; it makes me stretch and think.
Enjoy God. Do you enjoy God? Do you delight in Him? Does He make you smile in such a way that makes others ask about it? Do you ever laugh out loud because of your joy in God? Do you enjoy stretching to think about God’s incredible attributes? Do you enjoy memorizing His promises? Do you delight in worship? Can you relate to the words of David, “When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy.” Psalm 122:1[Msg]
Notice I didn’t ask if you go to church or read your Bible or give or behave like a good little Christian. I asked if you like it. I asked if you enjoy it. I asked if you enjoy God.
Up until a few years ago, I would have answered such questions with a blank stare, a puzzled look, a confused twitch and perhaps a cocking of the head. I would have answered as I do when someone asks me a question in a language I don’t understand. Speaking slowly doesn’t help. Explaining doesn’t help. When you don’t get it, you don’t get it. And for a long time, I didn’t get it.
I didn’t get that Christian living was all about joy. I didn’t get it even though God has commanded us to “Rejoice in the Lord.” I had memorized it, sung it and taught it, but I still didn’t get it. I understood serving God, being obedient to God, and, in my own feeble way, worshiping God (although we never truly worship until we enjoy God). But enjoying God was a foreign concept.
Enjoying God felt intriguing, trivial and irreverent. Perhaps this is why I had missed it. I thought it kindergarten. I was interested in important things. Joy in God felt fluffy; the stuff that teenaged girls giggle about. I was interested in serious matters of the faith. I was interested in theology and everyone knows theology has nothing to do with joy (Oh how confused the enemy has us!)
Enjoying God felt trivial. In fact, it felt worse than trivial, it felt irreverent. I think it is true of everyone who has learned to enjoy God. I have enjoyed some writings of people who have gone before me on this path. They speak consistently about the feeling they had about this whole thing feeling irreverent at first. Are we not told somewhere to be sober-minded?
The architecture of our churches teaches us to be reverent. We are told not to run in church, not to make noise in church. We are told to be quiet, still, reverent. This is the house of God. Don’t laugh here. Sing, yes, but sing in a reverent way. Don’t just haul off and wail at the top of your lungs. Certainly don’t shout. Be dignified. If you ever got so into it that people thought you were drunk, you would have done the gospel a great disservice.
That is exactly what they thought of the early church. They were so happy they thought they were drunk. That is what the gospel is all about–making you so happy people think you are drunk. The Bible says you don’t need to get drunk to feel this way, just fill up on the intoxication of joy in God.
Intrigued? I was. Part of me thought joy in God was trivial. Part of me thought it was irreverent. But part of me thought it was awfully interesting. Probably because God has put within the heart of every person on planet Earth an unquenchable thirst for joy. We crave pleasure. We long for happiness. We can deny it, pretend it isn’t there, act like it isn’t true, and act like we don’t need joy. But it is there. We want it. We need it. We crave it. I want it. I need it. I crave it. You want it. You need it. You crave it. Don’t pretend it isn’t true. We all want joy, need joy, crave joy.
God doesn’t ask us to deny our craving for joy. No. He doesn’t ask us to deny it, He wants to satisfy it. He asks us to deny our self-conceived methods of finding joy in the things of this world, not because He wants to deny us joy, but because those things don’t give us enough joy. He wants to thrill us beyond our imagination. He gives us a need for joy so we can find our satisfaction in Him.
There is a book in the Bible that is called “the epistle of joy.” It is the book of Philippians. Read a chapter or two and record any insights you find about enjoying God. Feel free to mark some verses in the text by underlining or bracketing the sides of the verses. Record some of your insights here.