Finding the Joy of Jesus

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

Dear members and friends,

As I reflect upon the message for this week with a deep sadness in heart due to the cancellation of our in-person celebration on Christmas Eve, one truth dawns on me with a stronger light. Somehow, we became convinced in the illusion that illness and death are not part of our lives, or at least they are far away from us. The Covid virus pandemic is certainly troubling and challenging and our hearts moan with news of people being hospitalized and even dying. However, that does not mean we must give up all chances of having joyful moments with our loved ones or feeling delight as they happen. Though it may seem like we’re living through unprecedented challenges, taking a long view of human history is sobering. At the time of Jesus, the infant mortality rate was about 30% in the Roman empire, meaning it could have been 40-50% in other parts of the world. And life expectancy was only 35 years! In 2021, the infant mortality is about 0.7%, and life expectancy is about 79 years. If we were to time travel back 2,000 years, illness and death would be a normal, almost daily part of life. Despite this dire reality, Jesus taught the people about joy as in John: I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. (15:11) 

Jesus emphasized that “my joy may be in you,” because there is inner joy that we should obtain. However, the joy from Jesus cannot be achieved by eradicating all pain and suffering in human life, because Jesus’ joy transcends our materialistic reality. Thus, the joy of Jesus can only be achieved by eradicating all desires arising from selfishness and the false justifications therefrom! In other words, the joy of Jesus is the joy of heaven, which is the state of being in which there is no selfishness and false justifications. This is why the first and most important teaching of Jesus is that we are spirits whose life on earth is just a temporary and preparatory journey. According to Jesus, the best and only way to cultivate the joy of Jesus (the joy of heaven) is by means of loving actions toward others. Thus, love has been and still is the most important principle, power, and feeling in human lives. 

My brothers and sisters in God. Let us take a moment on this day when we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and take the meaning of love within our hearts. May your deeper love inspire you and direct you toward the inner cultivation of the joy of Jesus. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee