As we wrap up our series on spiritual disciplines we get to the discipline that I think the church struggles with the most: the discipline of celebration. Foster closes his book with this discipline because he is convinced that as we incorporate these inward, outward, and corporate disciplines in our lives and we do life with Jesus we do not have any other choice than to celebrate. Life with Jesus is one of joy.
I find it personally convicting that I am more inclined to attend a baseball game and make a fool of myself jumping, screaming, clapping, and cheering with people I have never met before than I am for Jesus. I go to a baseball game and high five the people around me cheering on the same team but at church, I struggle to get excited. When a team wins a championship there is a parade with thousands of people losing their mind, but when a miracle happens before us with someone going from death to life we give them a laundry list of do’s and don’ts and think of how to get them serving instead of celebrating what has happened.
Celebration is natural to us. Watch a baby with their favorite toy, they scream and make noise, bounce around, smile, and laugh, then even throw it out of excitement. Somewhere along our journey, we stop celebrating. Perhaps we are worried about what other people would think about us if we got excited. Maybe we grew up with parents who were not joyful and we didn’t get to see much excitement from them. Maybe we view celebration as a childish act.
I lament that some of us even struggle to laugh. Paul in Philippians 4:4 commands us to rejoice, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds.” We see the Scriptures expecting and commanding us to be joyful. This means that if we are not joyful, we are sinning.
Paul understands we have a lot to lament in life. That is why his command to rejoice in the Lord does not stop there. He continues in Philippians 4 to tell us, “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We are to pray and communicate with God. Further than that, Paul says in verse 8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” We need to intentionally think about shifting our gaze to the things of Christ.
“The decision to set the mind on the higher things of life is an act of the will. It is the result of a consciously chosen way of thinking and living. When we choose this way, the healing and redemption in Christ will break into the inner recesses of our lives and relationships, and the inevitable result will be joy.”
I don’t know about you but I want to be a joyful person. Not only because I don’t want to live in sin, but also because it is a much better way to live. I want people to see something different in me, the joy of Christ. I hope that everyone I meet leaves and says to themselves, “Michael, he loves and knows Jesus.” I want the same thing for you.
Will you commit today to rejoice in the Lord? Decide to set your mind on the higher things. Begin to reorder your thoughts and emotions so that joy oozes from your pores. We have so much to celebrate. Let us be a church that celebrates who Jesus is and all he has done for us.
Pastor Michael Covey
“Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” – 2 Samuel 6:14-15
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth. HarperOne, 2018.
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