Earlier this week I was reading in my devotions from Philippians 4 and came across verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
That’s a great verse and a great reminder, but how often would that be a word we would use to describe ourselves? How often do we actually rejoice? When I think of rejoicing I get the picture of someone singing and dancing, laughing and shouting about how wonderful things are. Kind of like we see Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music” dancing and singing, “the hills are alive with the sound of music,” as she glides across the Austrian mountainside. Or like Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain” dancing in the streets and swinging on lightposts while whistling and crooning, “Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo-dloo-doo.”
Now I know that I am not an overly emotional guy. Is that redundant? But how often do I rejoice? I have been known to get pretty excited and even jump up and down when the Redskins or Colts win a big football game. But that doesn’t last very long and I am not really rejoicing in the Lord so much at that time, just celebrating a win.
So I think this is a valid question. How often do I really rejoice? Paul tells us in I Thessalonians to be joyful always and that seems a little more doable. He also tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, which is difficult because of the parameter of “all circumstances,” but the idea of being thankful is something we can deal with. However, if I picture rejoicing like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music” and Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain;” then I have a little bit of a problem, because I don’t ever really act like that.
I even decided to take a look at the word rejoice in Scripture and sure enough I found singing, shouting, playing instruments, celebrating and even leaping, as well as waving palm fronds and leafy branches referred to in conjunction with rejoicing. When Solomon is crowned as king after David we even see the ground shaking with the sound of their rejoicing. And in Nehemiah at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, we see that the rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
So what do I do with that? Paul is challenging me to rejoice in the Lord always, but my life is not a Broadway musical and I feel a little silly dancing up the stairs, twirling around lightposts, and singing at the top of my lungs. How about you? Well, maybe that’s our problem.
You know in the early church we see a contagious Christianity. We see people being added to their number daily. It was like people saw these early Christians and said to them, “I want whatever it is that you’ve got.” And Christianity spread like wildfire. But eventually that victorious rejoicing gave way to traditional practice and we as Christians became much more refined and proper. We do church well, but how often does the world really see us rejoicing?
When you stop and think about it, we have a lot to rejoice about don’t we? Just even think about what we are celebrating this month. We are celebrating the birth of our Savior who came to earth to die for the sins of the world. That is worth some singing, dancing and shouting isn’t it?
How much more effective witnesses would we be if the world saw us walking through this life rejoicing? We would be much more contagious. I guess that is my challenge for us this Christmas season. Let’s really rejoice. Let’s treat the Christmas message like we used to treat waking up on Christmas morning and running down to see the presents. Let’s let the world see in our faces the wonderful message of the Gospel. Let’s “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!”