God the Most Joyous Being in the Universe

imagesWe humans are a bit cranky. We upset easily. To share some painful examples from my recent past: I pick the wrong line in the grocery story causing me to become impatient and resentful. An unexpected meeting invades my plan for the day. Anxiety fills my heart. I feel unjustly attacked and return the favor by being rude to some undeserving victim. There is a daily struggle in my heart, a tug-of-war between self-assertment and surrender to Another. I long for wholeness. I long for the “fullness of joy” in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11). More often, my heart wanders from God, seeking solace in small things, created things, which will not ultimately satisfy.

I don’t think I’m generally known as gracious and joy filled. I wish I were. More to the point, I wish that I was more often gracious and joy filled! Unfortunately it is probably not a stretch to say that Christians today aren’t generally known to be gracious and joy filled people. Often, we are not much different than those around us, even though Jesus says we are to be the “salt of the earth” and a “light on a hill.” I wonder if part of the problem rests in a faulty view of God. Perhaps we Christians unwittingly view God as a kind of cosmic killjoy or a “spy-in-the-sky.” Or maybe we just think he is distant and uninterested.

Our witness suffers. Our lives fragment. Yet God beckons. Dallas Willard writes some profound stuff, but I was struck with this statement recently:

Central to the understanding and proclamation of the Christian gospel today, as in Jesus’ day, is a re-visioning of what God’s own life is like and how the physical cosmos fits into it. . . . We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that he is full of joy. Undoubtedly he is the most joyous being in the universe.[1]

God is the most joyous being in the universe. I’m reminded of the Dos Equis beer commercials: The most interesting man in the world . . . drinks Dos Equis. The most joyous being in the world . . . offers us a drink from a deeper well, the living water (John 7:37–8). Willard continues:

The abundance of his love and generosity is inseparable from his infinite joy. All the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breath and depth and richness.[2]

God eternally and inexhaustibly experiences all that is good, truth, and beautiful. Life in the Kingdom of God ought to be characterized by joyful living, not because life on earth is perfect, but because joy is the product of a life surrendered to and in communion with God. As C. S. Lewis eloquently puts it, “God gives what He has, not what He has not: He gives the happiness there is, not the happiness that is not[3].”

This is part of the “good news” of the gospel. We can be joyful, even in the midst of the sorrow and pain of this world. I’ll never be “the most interesting man in the world,” and I’m good with that. But there is a drink on offer for me, for all: the living water drawn from the deep well of God’s love and joy. Next time I pick the wrong line in the grocery store or my plan is upended by unexpected meetings, Lord willing, instead of responding with anxiety or crankiness, I will drink deeply from the well of living water and joyously love those God has called me to serve in that moment.

[1] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998), 62.

[2] Ibid.

[3] C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), 47.

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