If following Jesus is a lifelong journey, how does it become a lifelong joy?
Church is often viewed as just another weekend activity or hobby to add to our busy schedules. But as pastor Kyle Davies highlighted in a recent sermon, following Jesus is so much more than that. It’s a lifestyle, a lifelong commitment that transforms our lives in beautiful and profound ways.
Kyle began by acknowledging the fact that at first glance, church can seem like a terrible hobby. It requires waking up early on your day off, missing prime brunch hours and football games, and experiencing discomfort as you’re challenged to assess your inner life. Compared to other fun weekend activities, it just doesn’t seem worth the inconvenience.
Yet while following Jesus as part of a church community can be difficult at times, it leads to joy that makes it all worthwhile. When you follow Jesus, you experience:
– Joy in the midst of suffering
– Peace when your world is in chaos
– Hope when you trend toward despair
This joy is the fruit of changed lives and transformed relationships. It flows from fixing your eyes on Jesus instead of your circumstances.
Kyle went on to unpack one of our church’s core values that captures this spiritual journey well: progress over perfection. None of us will ever arrive at a place of sinless perfection in this lifetime. The Christian life is a lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus. The apostle Paul said it best when he wrote, “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
This value of progress over perfection delivers several key insights:
– It’s Jesus who takes hold of us first in love, not the other way around. Our efforts don’t reach up to grasp or earn God’s affection, rather we respond to the embrace he has already initiated.
– Spiritual progress is not about checking off religious boxes or being good enough. It’s growing in our knowledge of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
– Embracing progress over perfection does not give us an excuse for ongoing sin. As we walk closely with Jesus, we will sin less over time.
– Living out this value means moving away from self-hatred and negativity toward grateful humility in light of God’s mercy.
In order to experience the joy that makes following Jesus worthwhile, Kyle encouraged cultivating ways of being known by God and known by others in authentic community. He unpacked the following ideas:
– God meets us right where we are with the perfect embrace we need. There’s no need to hide our struggles.
– Joy is transmitted relationally through faith-filled eyes and voices. It’s nurtured through close bonds with God and others.
– Staying relationally connected enables us to walk through suffering with joy. We don’t have to do it alone.
– A high joy church culture repairs broken relationships and helps fill gaps where joy is leaking out.
As we move together toward Christlikeness, our shared values like progress over perfection help us navigate that lifelong journey. When we walk closely with Jesus and one another, day by day the joy he provides makes following him the only path worth taking.