I recently blogged about my curiosity on following Jesus. You can read it here. If you look at that post, you will notice a beautiful piece of artwork at the top, with its photo credit at the bottom of the post. When soliciting permission to post the artwork as the header for my blog post, the husband of the artist emailed me and said, "I think you are right on with your blog, about the value and importance of enjoying Jesus now, in this life. I found myself wishing that you would have talked a little more about how one enjoys Jesus. You mentioned various contexts such as human suffering, but what does it look like, feel like, etc. to enjoy Jesus now? What would I do to move to a more experiential relationship with Jesus? Of course, I have my own answers to these questions, but I offer them as a humble comment (and suggestion) on your blog." 

Tim, thanks for the feedback. This blog is a response to some of those questions. 

Let's think about the word ENJOY. The english word is based upon the Latin gaudere 'rejoice'. It is defined as, "take delight or pleasure in; have a pleasant time; possess and benefit from". Since the word ENJOY is based upon the word 'rejoice', let's look at the word 'rejoice'. The word REJOICE is based upon the "Middle English (in the sense ‘cause joy to’): from Old French rejoiss-, lengthened stem of rejoir, from re-(expressing intensive force) + joir ‘experience joy". It is defined as, "feel or show great joy or delight; cause joy to".

I'm not trying to give us an etymology lesson, but I'm simply trying to help us understand the context of this word in our language and discover the significance of enjoying Jesus. Based upon what we've seen in the word's history, when we enjoy Jesus we take delight, we take pleasure, we have a pleasant time, we benefit, we feel, we show great joy or delight and for Him to cause us joy. Personally, based upon that definition, I need a significant upgrade in my joy. It's an aspect of God's nature and character that I don't express or experience enough. I want to enjoy Jesus. I want you to enjoy Jesus. I want us to enjoy Him together.  He's enjoyable in the difficult times.  James 1:2 instructs us to "consider it all joy" when we encounter difficulties and trials, because in the end, they are for our good. When we lean into the practice of "considering," we exercise our strength leading to the renewing our mind with truth; and in this case, the truth feels like joy. Consider Him who is faithful. He is enjoyable because the announcement of His birth caused great joy for all people. As NT Wright describes, His birth was the inauguration of the Great Exodus. We have been liberated from the dark powers of The Great Pharaoh (Satan), we receive forgiveness for our sins and we have been reconciled back to God. This message of reconciliation has been given to us and we are empowered with His Spirit, to call home the lost sons and daughters of God (Luke 2:10, Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Acts 1:8, Romans 8:15-17). That should cause some great joy! That great joy should express itself. I can't help but remember the scene from Sister Act, when Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) has the choir singing "Oh Happy Day."  It starts flat, thin and anemic, but gains momentum and ends strong, energetic and fun. That's an expression of joy. Smile. Laugh. After all, joy is an expression of faith and it's 1/3 of the Kingdom of God (Romans 14:17). 

We enjoy Jesus when we delight in what He has done for us. We enjoy Jesus when we obey Him. We enjoy Jesus when we worship Him and focus on Him. We enjoy Jesus when we serve the least and the lost among us. We enjoy Jesus when we take risks and step out in faith. We enjoy Jesus when we love our enemies, when we love our neighbors and when we love ourselves. We enjoy Jesus when we take pleasure in the goodness of Jesus and in our new found freedom in His grace. 

Romans 15:13 captures the essence of what it means to enjoy God in this hour and in this life, even when we are surrounded by fear, uncertainty, anxiety or suffering. The Apostle Paul says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." [1] Do you see the key to enjoying him? It's in our trusting Him. Standing, kneeling, beholding, leaning and/or falling upon Jesus (or whatever verb you want to insert) is when we are FILLED WITH ALL JOY. ALL JOY! That's amazing! Remember, our word ENJOY is a derivative of the word REJOICE which comes from two words - one of them meaning 'expressing intensive force'. Trusting in the God of hope does not have to be sour or negative! It's the posture of a heart longing to be filled with ALL JOY. When you continue reading Romans 15:13, you see that you are filled with all peace so that you may overflow with hope, by the Spirit's enablement. Amazing!!!! Are we afraid of expressing intense joy?  Are we afraid of being judged for our outbursts of enthusiasm? Has our faith been weakened by the continual storms of life, so the most joy we can offer is a rare moment of joyful ecstasy in the presence of God? I'm challenged by the idea of joy and why I don't ENJOY Jesus more than I do. Something is definitely missing... 

In this life, in the gift of this life, as the Image Bearer of the Divine, in this Great Temple called creation, we are to illuminate the nature of God and point people to Him. Our joy in this life is the proper way to live revealing the "right side up Kingdom" and an "upside down world". Ask Jesus to restore to you the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12). Jesus wants your joy to be complete and full (John 16:24). As you commune with Him, abide in Him and live in union with Him, He wants you producing the fruit of joy, which is the evidence of you living the indwelling life in God (Galatians 5:23).

 

[1] New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.