Authentic Joy

by Pastor Tim White

Does it spark joy? What a great question. One of my heroes is Earl Palmer. I just love his Biblical exposition and his love of C.S. Lewis. I used to look for opportunities to go to a conference to hear him speak when he was at Berkley. And when he was at University Presbyterian Church, we had the privilege of having him preach for me at our church.

Earl Palmer said, "Joy is the evidence of Christian maturity not only in the easy moments of life but in the tough times also.”

Last week we heard from Pastor Linda that “joy” is mentioned 545 times in the Bible. That is astounding! But equally astounding is that the Bible also addresses our sorrows and hurts in such an honest fashion. “Jesus wept” is such an important verse because it shows God wants to be honest with us. And how many Psalms discuss life as being in the pits. But as honest as the Bible allows us to be about our hurts, discouragements, and insecurities, it is equally astounding how it calls us to joy.

If I had two prayers for Washington Cathedral this year it would be first, that every member would see themselves as a disciple and a discipler bringing a new hunger for the Word of God and fellowship with the Spirit of God. And that we would all take seriously our “Life Mission.” Let me tell you what a big part your life mission plays. Part of your “Life Mission” is to help those you love to grow deeper in authentic faith. I see every person sitting in each of our services as the tip of the ice berg. You all influence or can influence so many people. You must start where they are at and plant seeds, knowing that some will sprout, and others won’t. But isn’t that the picture of life that Jesus gave us in the Parable of the Sower? When I die, I want each one of my children and grandchildren, neighbors, friends, enemies and people I hardly know to see a spark of joy in me that points them to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. I cast a wide net. I include atheists, agnostics, charismatics and Bible Baptists, Catholics and Orthodox, those who are spiritual giants and spiritually shallow. I want to influence them all for Jesus Christ.

My second prayer is that our church will be more joyful, more celebratory. That every Small Group and Ministry will represent deep friendship and joy. I think that is the inside track to opening hardened or weary hearts to a fresh work by God. Won’t you join me as we study the revolutionary message of Philemon and what God’s message has to say about authentic joy?

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White