11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be
complete. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 16 You
did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last,
so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. John 15:11-12, 16
The good news is that God chose us, that God loves us, and God plans to use us to make
this world God loves a better place. That can be hard to remember, especially after the events
in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Chicago, …and more than likely any number of cities, towns, and
neighborhoods in our own community. Every day we hear or read about school shootings,
cancer, suicide, poverty, discrimination, apathy, violence, spite, abuse, and injustice. Some
days it’s just too much for me to deal with. I have a feeling the disciples felt the same way.
After all, here they are in the middle of Jesus Farewell Speech, the night before he is
crucified. In his parting words to his disciples, he offers statements of truth. The truth is they
did not choose him, he chose them, and in that gift of love comes great joy.
Joy seems inappropriate when you are told that the one on whom you have relied on for
intimacy and belonging will no longer be around. How could joy be complete in them when
Jesus was about to die. Joy was a marked contrast to the realities that the disciples faced as
they watched Jesus die on the cross. It is a marked contrast that we face in the events of our
time. Where is joy in the midst of the hardship Jesus described and in the peril that is sure to
come? Where is joy when a primary source of your joy is leaving you? Where is joy when you
need it the most? And maybe that’s the point. Jesus knows that the presence of joy needs to
be heard, and felt, when you face things that are devastating and upend your world view.
Not that God’s choosing us is a panacea to all of the difficulties of this life. Instead, knowing
that God has chosen us, loves us, and will use us gives us the courage to face the challenges
of hatred, and all of the other cruelties of this world, and it is that inward joy that renews our
strength to do something about them. Of course we cannot fix this world, because that’s the
redeeming work of God. But knowing that God has promised to walk with us can give us with
the strength and energy to work to make our little corner of the world a better place to live.
When someone asked Luther what he would do if the world were going to end tomorrow he
said that he would plant a tree today. The future is God’s, a gift given, like joy, to God’s
beloved children. May we live our lives each day in the assurance that God has chosen us,
and he invites us to abide in his love. Perhaps we need to understand joy as our response to
God’s grace. When we find ourselves experiencing abundant grace, joy is that feeling that is
too wonderful for words that comes from God’s grace being poured out upon us. Joy is an
affirmation of God’s grace. It’s the guarantee of God’s grace when all that is good seems so
far away. It’s the security of God’s love when it appears that love is nowhere to be felt,
especially from those you thought would love you. It’s the promise Jesus gives us that even in
the darkest places of despair, God is abiding with us and we are abiding in God.
1. Have you ever experienced joy in the midst of a place of sadness and grief?
2. How can we see the joy of God’s love abiding in us in the midst of devastation?
3. How can you share God’s abundant love that has come to you with others?