I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.John 15:11
Dear members and friends,
As it is for all creatures on earth, survival is definitely a high priority for humans as well. Yet, there were ancient philosophers in both the East and West who talked about the importance of inner fulfillment as an even higher priority for humans than just survival. They acknowledged and emphasized that humans are innately wired to pursue inner fulfillment, at times even against their survival instinct. From the Confucian tradition, Mencius teaches about the three joys of a “Complete Person” while emphasizing that ruling the world as a king is not one of them. For Mencius, these three joys are the well being of parents and siblings, having a clear conscience toward Heaven, and educating a gifted student.
Human beings are self-conscious beings. Being self-conscious includes being aware of physical and mental aspects of oneself as well as being aware of one’s relationship with others. However, according to ancient wisdom, this is not all there is to being self-conscious. According to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, having the ability to not only acknowledge and understand oneself, but also objectively analyze one’s self-worth in terms of one’s connection and contribution to the world is crucial. In other words, we are born with an innate ability and tendency to acknowledge and measure our worthiness by ourselves within the social context where we live. This is why an individual who does not feel worthy of themselves or by their own measure, despite what others say, cannot be content or feel satisfied.
Jesus also teaches about joy. The joy of Jesus is not of any materialistic origin but from heaven and of the Creator. Our hearts are hungry for this essential joy. However, this joy comes to our hearts neither as an automatic flow nor by a transactional action. The joy of Jesus can only flow into our hearts when “we abide in the commandments of Jesus, which will make us abide in the love of Jesus.” In other words, this joy flows into our hearts only when we love others without any conditions, just as Jesus emphasizes, “you love each other as yourself.”
My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment and reflect on what love is in our hearts. My prayer is that the love in our hearts is connected to the love of Jesus, and thus warms other hearts wherever we go.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee