THE JOY OF JESUS
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
I don’t know about you, but as a long-time Christian (raised in a Christian home, gave my life to Jesus as a child and haven’t known much different), it’s easy to forget what is radical, exciting and different about knowing Jesus Christ. I forget the joy of Jesus.
My church in Sheffield has a large community of Iranians and every time we do baptisms a large number of the candidates are new, Iranian Christians. Every person who gets baptised at our church shares their testimony- explaining why they are choosing to make a public declaration of their faith in Jesus. Every testimony is powerful, regardless of the person’s faith background or nationality; but there is something very special about the testimonies from the Iranian candidates. Most are former Muslims and talk about how they used to live under fear of the wrath of god if they didn’t pray 5 times a week; they were unable to forgive because they hadn’t known forgiveness for themselves; carried anger because they served an angry god; and couldn’t find peace no matter how hard they tried.
The reasons many of the Iranians at church choose to follow Jesus are because, in learning about Him and encountering Him, they know grace for the first time; know forgiveness for the first time; are able to let go of anger; and find a peace like no other. I think that’s so amazing! And you see in the way they share their testimonies- delivered with passion and overwhelming emotion that their lives have been truly transformed!
Forgiveness, love, peace etc. are things I have come to take for granted as a Christian, and I absolutely LOVE being reminded of what the opposite looks like; it gives me fresh gratitude that God, through Jesus, has given us access to so many good things.
As we enter the season of Advent it’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the world that Jesus entered and remember the difference He made to those he lived with, and the impact on us 2000+ years later. Under the old Covenant and Law, Jews lived under similar conditions to those the Iranian Christians at my church today have left behind- they had to atone for their sins through sacrifice, were under threat of condemnation and death if they broke the law and were living under the adage ‘an eye for and eye’.
Jesus’s birth (and death and resurrection) signalled an end to these conditions and that is something to find joy in again (it’s great if you continue to be excited by these things, I just need a reminder occasionally!).
This advent we can take a moment to look upon Jesus’ arrival on Earth afresh. Reflect on what life without Him could be like and then celebrate that He did come and does give us the opportunity to know grace, peace, forgiveness, true love and joy.
20 May 2018
Louise is a member of Church Army’s Fundraising Team. A Sheffield native, she spent three and a half years with Youth With A Mission in Belize before returning to the UK to study Film and Media Production at Sheffield Hallam University.
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