The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit: Joy, Peace
Passage: Galatians 5:22–5:23, James 1:2–1:3, John 16:33
How many of you have had lots of teachings on the fruits of the Spirit before? How many of you have been frustrated that even after all of those teachings that you still don’t live your life with these fruits of the Spirit as evidence? How many of you try to control your faith/your walk with Jesus? How many of you are averse to vulnerability?
Because of your aversion to vulnerability you try to keep your faith safe and controlled and since each one of these fruits of the Spirit require vulnerability, they never become the true fruit of your life. Ugh reality of truth, huh? So today we are going to talk about joy and peace. Just wait til we get to patience next week. Consider already your struggle with patience and now mix that with your aversion to vulnerability. Ugh. But first joy.
In your Lifeline are post-it notes. This is because this series is going to be giving you post-it thoughts you need to post on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself so you will brave into vulnerability.
Let’s begin with this oft-quoted verse, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3. Joy in the midst of trials, joy in the midst of pain? Joy and pain go together.
This is where we get stuck. Joy isn’t supposed to hurt so much. I can tell you firsthand from raising our boys, they have hurt me. Wowsers. But they have also given me my greatest joy. There is vulnerability in that.
Are you ready for the vulnerability of joy? I learned from Dr. Brene’ Brown’s research how joy is one of the most vulnerable emotions there is. Why? Because our mind travels to these kinds of thoughts when we have moments of joy.
- I’m not going to allow myself to feel this joy because I know it won’t last. The dread will return. Do you feel the vulnerability?
- Or if I acknowledge how grateful I am, I’m sure disaster is right around the corner. Do you feel the vulnerability?
- Or I’d rather not be joyful so that I don’t have to wait for the other shoe to drop. Do you feel the vulnerability?
Which thought do you find yourself thinking when you are faced with joy?
Basically you are saying, “I’m not worthy of having this joy so I must sabotage it before life sabotages me.”Ouch. How true is that for you?
When we feel such moments of joy, these “too good to be true” thoughts are really rooted in fear, scarcity, or I am not enough, and are blocking vulnerability. And the deeper root is you feel you are not worthy of feeling joy.
Do not be afraid to feel the ordinary joys that happen in your life. Also do not be afraid to feel the pain that happens in your life. You get both. We all do. You will make it through both. Remember that God has hardwired us for pain.
Joy is what we get in our pain, like what James 1 teaches us. Real true joy. You get those moments when you laugh so silly over something so silly because real joy leaked out. Or those moments when you are beautifully overwhelmed at something you see in nature. Isn’t it in these times of joy that the most beautiful writing happens or the most touching songs are written? This is because pain and joy are alive together.
You are worthy to experience joy.
Next up is peace. Peace is a central promise of the Christian faith. One of the names of Jesus is the Prince of Peace after all.
In Luke 8:48 when Jesus healed the brave unnamed woman who left her home after 12 years seeking a healing from a shaming blood disease, Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” First, women, let’s awe that she was called daughter by Jesus. What a tender name, a name many of us crave to hear. Peace was the sending off gift Jesus gave her.
After the resurrection, the disciples huddled together in fear not knowing what to do next. Jesus appears and says, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” Luke 24:36. No wonder he is called the Prince of Peace. He is continually blessing with it, even in the most frightful and vulnerable situations.
Of course, Jesus also said in Luke 12:51, “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!” This sounds far from the Prince of Peace that we may idealize more to be like “hippie peace.” This peace is a lot deeper.
Here is the vulnerability of peace. Peace is just not a simple blessing we get to receive and then go on living our lives--controlling the outcome of our lives.
We want to believe that we can live lives of peace, especially if we decide to live a life of faith. We do get to live lives of peace but it is far from the idealized version of hippie peace. Because Jesus also taught, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”John 16:33.We get the peace. We also get the trials and sorrows. We get the joy. We also get the pain.
We are not exempt from pain. But because we want to control the outcome so much… Because we don’t want to feel how painful the trials and sorrow really are… Because we desire a much safer life… We strive and hustle in our attempts to protect ourselves believing we are on our way to peace.
Striving and hustling are not peaceful.Nothing about those words emote peace. Yet we would rather hustle to numb the pain so we can find that elusive peace again. But is it peace you are looking for? Or control over your life?
It is easier to have that extra glass of wine. It is easier to play that video game. It is easier to scroll mindlessly through Facebook. It is easier to binge watch Netflix. All of this is easier than to rest in the peace that God knows the big picture like John 16:33 tells us.
I know this about feeling real pain too. There is peace that goes beyond understanding. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
In those darkest moments, a peace seeps in. An unexplained peace. A peace beyond understanding.
There is a family from my last church. 15 years ago they buried the oldest sister at age 9. The healthy father had a stroke at age 47. They had to make the decision to take him off of life support, brought him home where he took 6 days to die. At his death on March 21 the oldest son wrote this:
“At about 7:30 this morning, my dad took his last breath and went to heaven to be with my sister. I have never been more sad in my life, but I have an inexplicable peace and hope that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ. I don’t know why God had me here to save him if this was how it was going to end, but it’s not always our place to know God’s plan. What I do know is that I will see my dad again one day, and that is what I will rest in. If you would like to know about the reason for my hope, please reach out. It’s what my dad would want, it’s what I want, and it’s what Jesus wants. God is no less good because of this.”
This peace changes you to the core and the fruit of that is you find yourself fretting less and trusting more. You are amazed at yourself when you have to go through the next lowest of lows and you really are fretting less.Because you don’t forget moments of peace like this.
You have to stop the hustle and striving to control the outcome of your life to find this kind of peace.And that is simply hard. It is releasing that control. It is stopping the numbing. It is a fruit of the Spirit which means the Holy Spirit is here to help you.
So are you feeling joyful and peaceful about joy and peace today? More importantly, are you feeling a rumbling of possibility in your insides of a stronger more active faith?
One more quote for you:
“The peace we are offered is not a peace that is free from tragedy, illness, bankruptcy, divorce, depression, or heartache. It is a peace rooted in the trust that the life Jesus gives us is deeper, wider, stronger, and more enduring than whatever our circumstances are, because all we see is not all there is and the last word about us and our struggle has not yet been spoken.” –Rob Bell, What We Talk About When We Talk About God
More in The Vulnerable Fruits of the Spirit
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