There is a verse in the New Testament that intrigues me and intimidates me. In his first letter Peter describes our relationship with Jesus and says
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” 1 Peter 1:8
Somehow the old King James seems to capture these words in a way that stirs my heart and intrigues me. It says that knowing Jesus fills us with “ joy unspeakable and full of glory”
Whatever else a “joy unspeakable and full of glory” is, its an experience. Now I know that we are not to base our faith on experiences but there is no doubt that authentic New Testament Christianity is experiential, knowing Jesus is meant to make us feel some things, and one of those things is JOY. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, if the Holy Spirit is at work in us, we should experience joy.
I am intrigued by what exactly a “joy unspeakable and full of glory” is. If I am being honest, Peter’s words also intimidate me because it describes something, I am not sure that I am experiencing. I am not sure that joy is something that I experience that often, never mind to a level that could be described “inexpressible and glorious” What about you?
Thinking about this my mind obviously went to a prayer of David, who asked the Lord to “ Restore to me the joy of your salvation” Psalm 51:12 It seems like at one stage in his life David, a man once described as “a man after God’s heart” felt that joy was largely absent from his life. So, I am not alone in feeling a joy deficit. I know that we are not meant to wear the painted smile of a clown and go round singing “IVE GOT THAT JOY, JOY, DEEP DOWN IN MY HEART” but I also know that if we are open to the Spirit that the New Testament suggests that at times a joy should invade my heart that is so profound its difficult to describe, it’s a “joy unspeakable.”
This Sunday we are going to be thinking about joy, but I have been pondering the fact that its not enough to just think about JOY, joy is something to be experienced. So, I am making David’s prayer my prayer this week that God would help me to know the joy of my salvation, that He would give me a taste of what a joy unspeakable feels like.
I am also praying for us as a church that joy would become more characteristic of our fellowship and worship. How we express joy obviously varies depending on our culture and our personality. Being Scottish and being me I will probably never dance down the aisle in joy but people should see joy in me and they should see joy in us, in our worship, in our fellowship.