Christianity: it’s the joy we give others
“…and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” —John 20:31b
Having power in his name means something different to each of the four economic stratospheres: the upper, middle, lower class, and those at the very bottom. Or does it?
The answer to my question depends on how you want to look at the power of Jesus’ name. The answer also depends on how you want to look at life, particularly your life.
Power in Jesus’ name isn’t a conquering (or controlling) power by earthly measures. The radical upstart coming into Jerusalem on a donkey a couple of weeks ago tells us the kind of power Jesus had—and the kind of power people then (and now) want Jesus to have.
Here are the 1-2-3 facts. One, the rebel ate with the wrong people. Two, the leader from the wrong side of the tracks talked to the wrong people. Three, the religious upstart healed the wrong people on the wrong day of the week. Jesus tells us as clearly now (as he did when he was here on earth) that this life is not about His gain. His life is about making and then taking the right actions so that His Father is glorified. Our lives are about making and then taking the right actions so that our Father is glorified (Psalm 115, John 3:30, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Peter 4:11).
“THAT’S life,” he tells us.
And that’s power, His power.
Here’s the little thing we do: we wed life and power into a happy equation. We think, “Life equals power. Power equals life.”
But that’s wrong. Life is when we have no power. When our energies, ambitions and dreams fulfill not us but someone else by way of Jesus, our active agent in the world today, then we are living.
The childless neighbor who lights up as a boy gleefully experiences the thrill of a bicycle ride on the street in front of her too quiet house, that’s life. The man with tears running down his face when his dear friend’s dog dies for one truly stupid reason, that’s power.
Here are two more examples. When you feed a family anonymously and eat dinner from one can, that’s life. When you beam because someone else has fallen in love, that’s power.
“This” is not about us. This is not our life. This is not our power. To ‘win the most’ before the game is over is just that, a game. It’s a meaninglessness, a time-consuming façade behind what is real.
Self-glory and self-gain are so far from the Kingdom of God. Denying ourselves (or dying in part) so that others may live is not morbid, maudlin, or a mean practice of hurting ourselves. It’s simply letting others be joyful. And dear Christian, no matter where we are (or are not) on the economic scale—high, middle, low or no (money)—our joy is in the joy of others.
Turn this to God. Consider the obvious. God is most joyful when we are joyful. God gave Himself through His Son so that by His suffering and death we will have eternal lives. He suffered. He died. If we are to be in His image, then while we are in this life we, too, will sometimes suffer and we will surely die—to self.
Prayer: This suffering? These hardships? This loss of self so that we are in service to You? Help us through Your church see this—help us be this—a little more clearly each day. In our Savior’s name, we pray. Amen.