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Zooming Out

• Greg Boyd

This week Greg talked about a problem that we all experience: joylessness. We read in Scripture that God is joyful and he desires for us to experience joy too! We need to experience the Joy of the Lord if we are to live an empowered spiritual life in Christ. Joy strengthens us to endure the difficulties of life here and now.

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Today Greg applied what we have been learning these previous weeks to a problem that we all experience—joylessness. We read in Scripture that God is joyful! Not only that, but that God desires for us to experience joy as well. In fact, we NEED to experience the Joy of the Lord if we are to live an empowered spiritual life in Christ. Joy strengthens us to endure the difficulties of life here and now.

What is it that prevents us from experiencing this joy? Is it because the world is such a joyless place? Greg argued against this by reminding us of the early martyrs whose joy was so complete that they considered it a privilege to give themselves to death for the sake of the gospel! No, the world has always been a painful place lacking in joy. Greg suggested it might have something to do with….yep, you guessed it, the microchips in your brain. ? More specifically, it is the way we frame things that robs us of the joy we could be living in. Recall the mental exercise that Greg did where he had you picture a person being cut open with a knife and then had you back the frame off far enough to realize that you are witnessing a surgery. Notice the change that takes place in our minds when we see the higher meaning of that event. That same sort of “reframing” can take place for many of the other events in our lives as well. As Christians we have been given a glorious “frame” for our entire lives! (Rom. 8:18,28) If we “zoom out” and see that in the end, these things we are dealing with today will be taken care of by the larger picture, we can be free from the bondage to them that we sometimes feel. In Christ God has reconciled ALL things to God! (2 Cor. 5:16-20, 1 Cor. 15:20-29, etc.) It is important to see the big picture, the forest—so to speak—rather just this tree or that tree. Some of those “trees” Greg mentioned were: anger, fear, rejection, guilt, shame, and so forth. If we fixate on these things rather than resting in the joy that is the frame, we will remain captive to them. We need a larger frame of reference!

God’s perspective is always the true one. So, when we are reframing it is important to gain God’s perspective to whatever extent is possible for us. When we consider the magnitude of God’s perspective on the events of history and what God has done in the world, this ought to change our sense of the magnitude of the issues we are dealing with personally. We can see that there are bigger things happening, a larger context to offer meaning to our own situation. It doesn’t mean that our situation is unimportant, but it does offer proper perspective on it. Return again to Paul’s words above from Romans. Paul’s perspective is so joyous and complete that he can say that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the joy that is to come! These are profound and difficult words to speak! Deep beneath these words is a profound faith in the promises of God and an equally profound gratitude for the gift that this life truly is. And remember that this was spoken by a man who suffered much for his faith, including physical abuse, jail, and many other forms of persecution.

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Chronicles 16:27

    27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

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