April 2nd, 2011 was a memorable day for Indian Cricket fans. India had just won the ICC Cricket World Cup. I was in Delhi at the time of the win where many of my friends gathered at India Gate to celebrate this victory. I still remember everyone around me going crazy about it! What a great day. Everyone stopped what they were doing and went to the streets to celebrate!
On December 25th every year, Christmas is celebrated, the world over. Folks take a break from work and from studies, to enjoy the festivities of the “holiday” season. Singing Christmas carols and songs is part of the many festivities. One of the most popular songs we sing during this season is “Joy to the World”. The song, written by Isaac Watts, was inspired by the latter half of Psalm 98. Psalm 98 when paraphrased reads thus – “Sing a new song to God for God’s right hand has won a victory displaying His power to save. His victory reveals the righteousness of God to all nations. God has not forgotten! He has kept his promise. Shout then, and break out in praise and sing for joy, the earth and all in it. Let the seas and all its creatures shout His praise, let the rivers applaud in happiness, and the hills sing in joy before God, who is coming to judge the earth fairly with justice.”
One of the most recurring themes in the Bible, is the theme of God’s righteousness being unraveled before all nations. This is very well captured in Psalm 98 and is also spoken of in Revelation 15:4 –“All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
The song, “Joy to the World” is a beautiful celebration of the unraveling of who God is to all nations, and the celebration doesn’t stop with the people of the Earth but extends to every created being from the seas and all the creatures swimming in it to the rivers, and the hills, who clap and make a joyful sound to God.
The response to India’s victory on the cricket field was dancing and celebration. How much more should our reaction be to the victory of Jesus over sin and death?
Psalm 98: 7 – 9 says:
“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.”
There’s resounding applause and joyful singing in response to the victory of Jesus, which renders a just judgment on all mankind. This justice which causes us to sing “Joy to the World, the Lord has come” is a celebration not only of Jesus’ birth in a manger, but also of his second coming.
The only time people celebrate the arrival of a judge is when the verdict is in their favour. Imagine being on trial, and being freed of all charges! I would celebrate. I would call my friends and celebrate! But this victory isn’t merely affecting one person, but one that reaches out to all people, and all of creation. Which is why even nature will celebrate this victory. This day is written about in Revelations 21:4 – “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” If this is how the Lord will come, it is a joyful, happy day, for those who’ve been saved by Christ.
Christmas is a day when Christians are allowed to publically celebrate and proclaim the birth of a man who did so much, that the celebration should ideally continue the rest of our days. And it’s a perfect opportunity to display Christ to those who don’t know him. Our display of God's love goes beyond our words, but translate into actions of love.
So this Christmas, invest in the lives of those who may not know who this Jesus is. By this I do not mean force them to come to a Christmas service (invite them lovingly, of course). Or perhaps you could share a meal with them, play a board game with them, or throw a party and invite them to come. You could give them gifts, or just spend time with them in the spirit of Christ. You never know what a person is going through and just investing time with them could be the best Christmas gift you could offer them. Be creative, and celebrate the work of Jesus by investing in the lives of those who don’t know Him, because Jesus did that when He was on earth – He invested in the lives of those who didn’t know God.
The unravelling of who God is took place in these disciples’ lives after Jesus’ resurrection, but the impact it had on the world was far more than what one could imagine! So invest in those who don’t know Jesus, you never know the lasting impact your one act of kindness will have.
May your actions display the joy that comes from Jesus into the lives of those who don’t know Him! May they be seen singing the chorus of His praise at that time, when we together as one will stop and celebrate the return of this King! May this be your new song, something creatively designed and inspired by He who was willing to be limited by time and space so we could enjoy an eternity being unlimited by time and space with God, our maker.
So stop what you’re doing, and celebrate the work of salvation! May your joyful celebration be a joyful celebration all the year round!
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