As humans we love a reason to celebrate and we love a celebration. There is something in our spirit that desires to break though standard joy to pure elation, shared and multiplied by the presence of others. Festivals are times where people unite under a banner of celebration. However, typically overshadowed by the presence of overwhelming joy and excitement lies the reason or cause for celebration. Behind every festival exists a significant moment or event that produced the initial celebration. Where there is a celebration there is also a time where there was nothing to celebrate. There was a time where there was little hope and little joy. Then, there were both. Then, something happened. Then, there was all the reason in the world to explode in passionate praise for this most incredible change in fortune, change in direction, change in circumstance.
One of the most recognizable characteristics of a Christian is the presence of joy. An individual who has met the Lord, been forgiven by him and proceeds to walk with him cannot exist apart from joy. This is a stark impossibility. It cannot exist. A person that has met the Lord tends to test this world’s acceptability of joy in his or her joyous reactions to all things trivial, mundane or life changing. To a person exhibiting the spirit of Christ, there is no difference between trivial, mundane and life changing moments. All possess Christ. All are from Christ. All are pointing to Christ. Therefore, all of these moments prompt our utmost praise and worship. This continual joy and praise are an aspect of the flowing stream of living water that we not only feel consistently throughout each day, and an experience that we chase and would give anything for. This joy not only fulfills us when we have it but it drives us when we don’t have enough.
However, this celebration in the joy of Jesus Christ cannot exist apart from the acknowledgement of its source. The moment that we celebrate is not as much in the now as it is forever locked in the past. The moment we celebrate has everything to do with what he has already done and less of what he is doing now. Without the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is nothing to be overjoyed about. We are still overcome by sin and our life in this world is overshadowed by the inevitability of death. We have life to celebrate now because he gave his life for us completely then. Joy in the Lord today cannot be fully complete without the ongoing presence and reflection of what he did. The fruits of the spirit are recognizable to those around us, but each moment a fruit is recognized must always be a moment of reflection and redirection. That moment does not provide the opportunity to praise what God is doing through the person in that moment, but the platform to tell a story. This story is about a God that so desperately desired his children that he was willing to give of his only son to bring all sons and daughters home. This story is what breaks the walls of our prideful and stubborn hearts to reveal a spirit in all of us that desires to come home. This is the story that has the power to change each one of us, and in turn can change the world. The fruits of the spirit are the results of that story that we can dance and sing in pure unadulterated praise. That praise is non-existent without the recognition that at one time there was nothing about which to praise and now there is nothing but.