To Rejoice is a Command!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4

Don’t let the word “rejoice” which is a happy sounding word, or the exclamation point fool you.  This verse is a command.  It is an order.  It is not a suggestion or a guideline.  It was meant to be followed.  Just as God doesn’t suggest that we don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, he doesn’t suggest that we rejoice. It is so important, Paul writes it twice.

So why is it that most of the Christians that you and I are around are beaten down, harried, frustrated, grumpy people?  In fact they rarely look any different from anyone else we meet.  How would you characterize yourself?  Does the light of Jesus shine from within you and resonate out to others?  Or do you wear a scowl and a frown and carry the burdens of life firmly attached to your back? 

One of my favorite features on my wife is her radiant face.  She has a beautiful smile that can light up a room.  Have you ever seen someone whose smile transforms his or her whole countenance?  That is my wife.  When she smiles you can see it from ear to ear and forehead to chin.  She positively lights up.  This is also her default mode.  More times than not this is how she looks.  She radiates Christ’s love for her from the inside out.  As believers, that is what we are all called to do. 

A good definition for rejoice, is to feel or show great joy or delight.  Let me ask you this, dear child of God, has He given you anything to be joyful about or delight in?  

If so then to rejoice is to think on those things!

Why does God command us to rejoice?  I believe the answer can be found in the name we go by.  Christians.  What is a Christian?  It is one who follows Christ.  To take it one step further, it is someone who has traded in his or her old self for a new self that resembles Christ.  When Jesus redeems us, we begin a transformation process.  This process starts to change us so that we become like Him.  I had a textbook called Conformed to His Image.  That is what we should strive for.  We should try to do everything we can to become more and more like Jesus.  You are what the world sees when they see Jesus.  This is your witness. 

So think about this for a minute.  Right now in heaven, what do you think Jesus is doing?  Is He weighed down because of everything going wrong here on earth?  Is He worried because He has that big showdown coming up with Satan and wishes He could just get it over with?  Maybe He is anxious because only the Father knows when Jesus is returning and Jesus just doesn’t like that, He wants to be able to plan for that day.  Do any of these scenarios seem “Christlike” to you?  They don’t to me.  I picture Jesus as radiant, full of joy, rejoicing in the Father’s presence.  I think He is the embodiment of rejoicing.  So if I am to be like Jesus, then why don’t I rejoice? 

I think like so much of the Christian walk, the command to rejoice comes down to us making a choice.  Either we will obey Him and rejoice, or we will not.  Those are the options.  Now I realize that life is hard.  There are things going on in your life that I don’t even know about.  Guess what, I have those things too.  I struggle with things that could overwhelm me if I let them.  But I also have been bought and paid for by a great big God.  In fact, the things He has done for me and the promise of the future that I have in Him makes my little problems now pale in comparison.

So getting back to the original question of why worry is so much a part of our makeup, the answer is because we haven’t let go of who we were and embraced who we are meant to be.  We are not called to be consumed with worry and anxiousness over this world.  We are called to show this world who we are now and what we have become.  We are called to show others why we are able to handle this world and that is because we are merely getting ready for the one to come.  Everything we do here has a lasting eternal impact, both for ourselves and for those around us. We are called to be an impact to the world as imitators of Christ.  We are called to be different, changed and to point others to what we have found.