What gives you joy? Not the kind of joy you feel when your co-worker brings in a box of donuts to your morning meeting. Not the kind of joy you feel when your team wins the Super Bowl. It is that feeling that comes with a torrent of excitement, hope, enthusiasm, and encouragement. It’s an overwhelming feeling that is almost indescribable. Just the thought of a joyful experience floods your soul with energy.
In the book of Galatians, Paul expresses his disappointment with the church in Galatia. He preached the Gospel there, and after he left, men rose up to edit his message. They preached the Gospel like Paul but also held on to the Law of Moses. Failure to keep the Law meant death. Jesus came to give life and to free his followers from the chains of the Law. Jesus came as a sacrifice and replaced the Law with God’s grace.
Paul writes, “Now that faith [in Christ] has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Galatians 3:25). Paul left the church in Galatia with a message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and thousands believed. There was joy in freedom. Life was good. Then the “old school” types came in to force the rules and regulations of the Law onto the new Christ-followers, creating an undue burden on them. Basically, confusion sets in, and souls are lost in the mix.
In chapter 4, Paul expresses how weird it is that the church is going through such turmoil. He writes that when he first visited, the Galatians were some of the nicest people. They took him in when he was sick. They listened to his message. They believed. Souls were saved. In contrast, Paul writes, “What has happened to all your joy?” (Galatians 4:15)
Where is the joy? What happened?
There is no excitement. That indescribable sensation of hope and peace is gone. The message of the Gospel is distorted, and the church begins to crack. The joy is wiped away. Paul’s message is still relevant today, because some of the joy is missing. Not all of it; just some of it. We need a joy revival.
What can we do to bring joy to the Church?