There are a thousand stories and jokes that end with the punch line, "Are we having fun yet?" You probably know at least one. Each of those stories, each of those jokes have an unsaid, obvious answer: "No, we are not having fun!" The story or the joke is funny because no one could have fun in the situation. The story or joke is funny because the people got into the situation trying to have fun.

Suppose this morning each of us made a list of things that a person should experience because he or she was a Christian. What would you put on your list? Forgiveness? Salvation? Mercy? Grace? Prayer? Worship? Communion? Fellowship? Peace? Would you put anything else on your list?

How many of you would put joy or happiness on your list?

If God made that list, would He put joy on it? If God listed those experiences in their order of occurrence, where would joy appear? At the top? In the middle? On the bottom?

  1. Why do people marry?
    1. "Excuse me, David. You sound like a two-year-old asking questions. Where in the world does that question come from? Don't you know anything about sermons?"
      1. "You start out with a punch line, 'Are we having fun yet?'"
      2. "Then you ask if us to think about the things a person experiences by being a Christian."
      3. "And now you ask us why do people marry."
      4. "Don't you understand that a sermon is at least supposed to fit together?"
    2. I promise you that I will fit it all together if you will follow me for a few minutes.
    3. I ask you again, "Why do people marry?"
      1. "Some don't."
        1. Very, very true.
        2. In our culture, an increasing number of adults choose not to marry.
        3. The fact that a lot of adults choose not to marry makes the answer to that question even more important.
      2. "Well, the people who marry decide to marry because they are in love."
        1. That does not tell me enough.
        2. In fact, the way our culture uses the word love, it does not tell me anything.
      3. When you say that people marry for love, what do you mean?
        1. "If they marry for love, they marry with love's expectations."
        2. "Love expects to be happy, to be appreciated, to be accepted, to receive kindness, to receive thoughtfulness, to be encouraged, to be forgiven, and to be understood."
        3. "People marry for love, and love has those expectations."
      4. If you have good friends getting married, what do you say to them?
        1. Do you say, "You are making a dangerous commitment!"
        2. Do you say, "I hope it works out, but it probably will not."
        3. Do you ask, "Have you thought about all the things that can go wrong?"
        4. Do you say, "I know what you expect, but you need to realize it will not happen."
        5. Do you tell them, "Love is great! Marriage is wonderful! You will be so glad that you married!"
      5. What do you tell those friends that they can experience? What should they expect?
        1. Should they understand from the beginning that marriage basically is a wonderful joy or a heavy burden?
        2. If your friends honestly examined your marriage, would they conclude that marriage is a wonderful joy or a great burden?
        3. If people carefully examined your marriage before they married, would they marry?
        4. If people honestly examined our marriages instead of listening to our words, what would they conclude about marriage?
      6. If people can examine the marriages of Christians and see more marriages without joy than marriages with joy, something is basically wrong. Healthy marriage produces joy.

  2. Does Christianity naturally produce joy? Should joy be a basic reality in a Christian's life?
    1. Instead of speculating about this, let's listen to scripture.
      1. When Jesus entered this world as a human infant, this is heaven's testimony:
        Luke 2:8-14 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
      2. The last night of Jesus' life on earth, he tried to comfort his disciples with this statement:
        John 16:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.
      3. Acts 2 tells us about the behavior of those first believers who were baptized because they understood that the resurrected Jesus was Christ and Lord.
        Acts 2:43-47 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
      4. Acts 5 tells us the reaction of the apostles when they were whipped because they preached about Jesus in the city of Jerusalem.
        Acts 5:41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
      5. Acts 8 tells how the city of Samaria reacted to hearing about Jesus Christ.
        Acts 8:8 So there was much rejoicing in that city.
      6. Acts 8 also tells us about the Ethiopian's reaction to his conversion.
        Acts 8:38,39 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
      7. Paul began the conclusion of his letter to Christians in Rome with these words:
        Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
      8. When Paul wrote the Galatians, he declared the fruit of the Spirit:
        Galatians 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
      9. Paul gave the Christians at Philippi this encouragement:
        Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
      10. And he gave the Christians in Thessalonica this encouragement:
        1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always.
    2. How much joy exists in your everyday life because of your faith in the resurrected Jesus?
      1. Do you experience joy because you are a Christian?
      2. If you honestly describe Christian existence as you know and experience it, would you have to share the joy or discuss the burden?
      3. This is true of any Christian: if we experience no joy, no gladness, no desire to rejoice because of our faith in Christ, something is basically wrong.
      4. When people who are not Christians look at your faith, at your heart, and at your spirit, do they see the joy?
      5. When people who are not Christians look at this congregation, see our faith, see our heart, and see our spirit in our worship, in our service, and in our relationships, do they see the joy?

[Prayer: God, our faith and our lives cannot bear testimony to You, or give glory to You, or declare Your greatness without joy. Help us not to be afraid of joy. Help us as individuals and as a congregation to allow the joy to be natural. Help us let our joy be obvious in our temptations. Help us let our joy be obvious in our struggles. Help us let our joy be obvious in our blessings.]

If there is little joy in your marriage, can your marriage produce all the blessings of a healthy marriage in you, in your spouse, and in your children? No. Does the absence of joy contribute to marital failure? Yes. Can a marriage with little joy bring joy to life? It not only can; it must.

If there is little joy in your faith, can your Christianity produce all the blessings of a healthy faith in your life and the lives of the people you love? No. Does the absence of joy contribute to spiritual failure? Yes. Can a faith with little joy bring joy to life in your relationship with God? It not only can; it must.

If there is little joy in the family of God, can our Christian community produce all the blessings of a healthy congregation? No. Does the absence of joy contribute to the death of a congregation? Yes. Can a congregation with little joy bring joy to life? It not only can; it must.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 26 December 1999

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