December 4, 2016

Joy: Not The Greatest Gift of All

Ok, I have a confession to make.  I drink Nespresso pod coffee.  Don’t judge me too harshly all you hipster cold filter dudes and dudettes.

Anyway, Nespresso sent me its latest promotional material for Christmas, and here it is, or at least here is a picture of the envelope:


Joy is the greatest gift of all.  Well at least it is since we’re no longer capable of eulogising Jesus in the public domain, even at Christmas. So the next best thing to do is to eulogise the gift that Jesus brings – joy.

Close, but no cigar as we might say.

So all sounds okayish, except for the fact that it’s a classic case of worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator (who is, by the way, forever blessed. Amen). And since that is the root of all of the icky sins that Romans 1 talks about; you know stuff like slander, sexual sin and greed.

So what’s wrong with joy being the greatest gift of all?  Simply this.  Without Jesus, joy keeps changing up.  It just does.  What brings you joy at one stage fails to do so at the next stage.

Coffee is a good example.  In days gone by (1987) Nescafe blend 43 used to do it for me.  That’s before I discovered Moconna’s rich flavour.  But then I chanced upon those sachets of caffeine goodness.  But then, finally, a pod machine.  But surely all of that pales beside a machine worth a couple of grand that can crank out coffee of a heavenly standard!

If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let crema come into your life. Until the next thing that is.Then we need to change up.

Crusty Puritan Thomas Chalmers, put it brilliantly like this in his sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection:

It is thus, that the boy ceases, at length, to be the slave of his appetite, but it is because a manlier taste has now brought it into subordination – and that the youth ceases to idolize pleasure, but it is because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the aseendancy and that even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart of many a thriving citizen, but it is because drawn into, the whirl of city polities, another affection has been wrought into his moral system, and he is now lorded over by the love of power. There is not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered; but as to its desire for having some one object or other, this is unconquerable.

Which simply means we change up.  Unless of course we find something so utterly brilliant, so utterly joyous, so utterly fulfilling that we just don’t want to replace it.

Which is of course, what Jesus is. And that’s Chalmer’s point. Jesus the One for whom we are made and in whom all joy is found and from whom all joys emanate.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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