I have a routine and it really goes in month long cycles.
September is Football and Franks. I love to tailgate and grill. I also love brats and hotdogs. So I are mostly hot dogs and brats throughout the month.
November is turkey/poultry and Thanksgiving. I will alter my crock pot taco soup recipe by substituting shredded chicken for beef, load up on the tobasco, Fritos, and shredded cheddar cheese and eat a crock pot full every week.
December is all about the three C’s: Christmas, cinnamon rolls, and chilie. Chilie is served seven nights a week, cleaning out the crock pot only to repeat the process. Fun fact: apparently this is a Kansas thing because if you mention it anywhere else people look at you like you are crazy.
But that leaves out October. Taco Soup (with beef) will get me through the month, but it really is all about candy. Walmart keeps dentists employed in November. I saw a sign the other day where a store is offering to buy back Halloween Candy to keep kids healthy. Meanwhile, I spoke with a Dad who refused to buy candy this years so he is taking his kids Trick-or-Treating an hour early so they can circle back by their house to refill their own candy bowl. That is #NextLevelParenting.
I have recently been studying the life of Jesus. I have also been trying to organize some thoughts on leadership and methodology. Here I bring the two together. One of my favorite get-to-know-you/team building games is what I call “synthesis”. Each group gets one note card. They have to write down 5 topics or thoughts on the left hand side. Then the team trades with another team. The new team has one minute to write down a word that corresponds with the first teams thoughts. The catch is that there is a theme. It might have to be an animal, or a celebrity, or a song, or anything else. They have one minute. Then each group has to explain to the whole group why they chose that thing to describe the first teams topic.
Since October really is all about the candy, how would Jesus ministry be communicated through candy bars?
One of the first things that draws me to Jesus ministry is how contagious it was. People were drawn to him. They brought the sick, they brought friends, they traveled miles, and they fought through crowds. They climbed trees, dug through roofs, watched from gates, crawled between legs, and snuck into dinners, just to be near him. But what drw them? Certainly it was his ability, some of it was probably his teaching, but I want to focus on something that not many other’s have touched: his Joy! Mostly because I struggle with it.
Joy is really a Paul word. First, I want to introduce you to three greek words. This will be painless.
- Chara is the greek word for “joy”
- Charidzomai is the greek word for “forgiveness”
- Charis is the greek word for “grace”
Notice that all three of theses words have the same root. From that the connection is easily made. When we understand that we are forgiven and have been shown grace, the only appropriate response is joy. Paul was joyful because he understood the great lengths to which he was shown grace and the the great depths that he had been forgiven. The reason I say this is a Paul word is quite simple. Half the uses of these words in Scripture come from Paul’s pen. He loved to talk about “joy” and “grace” and “forgiveness”.
Fir James and Peter, the source of joy is found elsewhere. James begins his book like this:
”Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1.2)
James knew that the growth received through the testing of faith would bring about joy. Peter echos this sentiment in his letter:
“These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 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, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1.7-9)
Peter and James found their source of joy in the trials they suffered. These two knew about suffering. Both would die a martyrs death. Both would face beatings and persecutions. Both would counsel people through the same things. They knew that if you wanted the prize you were going to bear the scars. This was joy. Dostoyevsky once said: “One thing I fear is not to be worthy of my sufferings.” Their joy came in the suffering in the same manner as Jesus.
But what about Jesus? He didn’t need the grace that Paul was given and his sufferings were unlike any other. It was his pattern that the other’s followed. So where was Jesus’ joy found? The Gospels don’t reveal it. None of the epistles of Paul reveal it. The only verse that touches upon it is found in Hebrews 12:2, in context it reads:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12.1-3)
The author of Hebrews encourages the Church to continue its run, not only because of those that have gone on before us and are cheering us on, but because that’s what Jesus did. Still the question remains, what gave Jesus his joy? Verse 2 tells us it was his death, resurrection, and ascension. The process is called redemption. Paul was joyful for the grace showed him, James for the sharing of suffering patterned for him, but Jesus was brought joy in the redemption he brought others. Despite the coconut!