|Good Christian friends, rejoice|
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye hear of endless bliss:
Jesus Christ was born for this!
That’s the second stanza of the Christmas carol “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.” It’s a reminder that the birth of Christ brought joy to the world. Yes, salvation and redemption were always at the heart of God’s plan. But think of how easy it is for God to save us. The act is already done.
The greater difficulty is to get Christians to live in the joy of Christ. Think of the word rejoice. If re is the pretext of joy, a message emerges.
When someone asks you to redo something that means you need to do it again. To rethink something over means you put thought into the subject again. Repairing a device means you’re mending pieces that were once connected. And if you’re asked to repeat something, it means you peated it once and you need to peat it again (corny joke groan).
Using the same logic, the word rejoice calls us to again be joyful.
In the seriousness of the world, it’s easy to lose joy. At least it’s easy to think of other things more. I used Google’s Books NGram Viewer to look up rejoice. Apparently, the word peaked in its usage back in the 19th century. From about 1860 on, it has dipped.
We need to be joyful again!
And if you think this is a trivial idea, let’s consider a word from Philippians 1. There the apostle Paul acknowledges a dilemma. Notice first that the false motives of other preachers and teachers don’t steal his joy. Remember, he is rejoicing in prison. Not only does he rejoice, “I will continue to rejoice,” he says. He re-rejoices.
His dilemma is life and death. If he dies in prison, his reward is to be with Christ. He prefers that. But if he remains alive he continues his mission to proclaim Christ. He concludes it’s more necessary to stay alive. Once he makes his decision, he says, “I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith.”
Did you catch it?
Since he’s hanging around he’s going to make sure his good Christian friends grow in faith and in their joy.
I know joy can be hard to hold onto at times. But make every effort to grasp it! Not because what you’re dealing with is joyful. No, we walk through some difficult seasons, don’t we? But let’s learn to rejoice because we know Christ is born. We know the Lord is faithful. And we know we are always in God’s care.