My goal in this series is our greater joy in Jesus, even in complex struggles intellectually, emotionally, relationally, etc. So, each time I will offer a buffet on 8 ‘P’s of good news. Chew and savor whatever helps your joy in Jesus. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)
Joy comes by Life from God, through God, and for God as revealed in the Bible. (Romans 11:33-36) Christ’s Presence is the first ‘P’ of that good news. For the presence we need is more than merely showing up. It’s sacrificial. Consider the video below.
We, however, tend to seek our own definition of presence and its goodness. For example, in 2004, Eckhart Tolle (via Oprah Winfrey) popularized an eastern concept in “The Power of Now”. Sadly, the biblical definition is less renown and even less understood. But we know the absence of presence: people having dinner together with one or more focusing on their phones, the newspaper, television, etc. Biblical presence is relational, flowing from a selfless love for the other’s joy in the Triune God. And that kind of focus is only possible from one who is confident in their own worth. Otherwise, they will live with a “quid pro quo” mentality, consciously or unconsciously: “I’ll focus on you now if you’ll focus on me later.” Few would say that, even if we were thinking it. Contractual ‘love’ erodes trust, communication, and commitment because that broken approach to presence reflects a broken sense of purpose. Listen to the following talk with my Mom on the link between presence and purpose on the following video.
A person’s presence is always tied to their understanding of purpose in life. If I see my highest goal as being productive, I might give you my full focus if you’re impressively productive. If my greatest treasure is peace, I might pay attention to you if you can guarantee a drama-free time. In every case, one’s decision to give themselves fully to another reflects their purpose. And many struggle to rejoice in Jesus’ presence because they don’t rest in God’s purpose of joy in Him by Jesus’ sacrificial love.
We tend to see our value in our performance and think of God as a Marine recruiter. “I’m looking for a few good men (and women).” But listen to this. Our unworthiness is worse than we could even think (Ephesians 2:1-3), and God’s love is much greater than we can possibly imagine. (Ephesians 2:4-10 and 3:20-21) For ever since Adam and Eve chose self-centered freedom over God-centered love “…every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood…” (Genesis 8:21, Psalm 14 & 53, Proverbs 22:15, Romans 3:23) And He can only accept moral perfection. (Psalm 5:4-5, Habakkuk 1:13, Matthew 5:48) Thus, only Jesus’ payment on the cross in our stead can eternally establish our worth/value in God’s eyes. That’s why our joy can only come by the initiating presence of Christ.
As you watch this next video, ask yourself about the two potential responses to Jesus’ presence outlined below the video.
- If/when we focus on ourselves, how will we respond when God’s Light is on us?
- If/when we focus on God’s covenant of grace, how will we respond to Jesus?