Dear Church Family,
The Christmas season has come to an end yet again, and it’s back to life as it used to be. A truly sad reality for some and a very welcome prospect for others. But there are some definite things that should never change for a Christian after Christmas time: Love, Joy, and Peace. These are words that we have seen posted everywhere during the Christmas season. And there is nothing wrong with that! It’s kind of nice to see people aspiring to Christian values. But the problem is, people in the world can only hold those values for a short season. And even during that season, those values are actually quite lacking. I’m not sure how many people actually feel the love, joy, and peace when fighting the crowds at the mall or driving up and down Green River Road! Why is it that having love, joy, and peace is so hard to keep up?
The answer is that love, joy, and peace come from the Lord. They belong to Him, and it is only in Him that we can find them. Unbelievers can aspire to these values as much as they want. But eventually they will burn out and default back to themselves. Even Christians seem to have this same experience. But if believers and unbelievers alike cannot attain love, joy, and peace for longer than a couple weeks in December (if that), then what’s the difference? And that’s my point. There is a difference. Believers truly can have love, joy, and peace throughout the year, in all circumstances. I did not say they would be healthy and wealthy, but that they could have Christlike attitudes through all of life’s situations. The key is that we must ask God to give us these values instead of thinking we can muster them on our own.
Where is this coming from and why am I writing about this? Well, it’s coming from Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” And I’m writing about it because I have found that having Christian values, even as a Christian at Christmas time, can be very difficult. The Lord has shown me that love, joy, and peace (and all the rest), are not just values that I need to try to live out, but they are realities in my heart that will only be displayed when I walk by the Spirit and not in my flesh. That simply means that I must ask God to give me His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control every single day. If I am not asking the Holy Spirit to guide my heart daily, then something else will. And it will make me unloving, dissatisfied, and in an uproar within.
I see those sad realities around me all the time in the life of students. They are dissatisfied with life, constantly fighting internal turmoil, and only full of love for themselves. It is also a reality for unbelieving adults. But it really doesn’t have to be our reality. Every Christian can have love, joy, and peace, because we all have the Holy Spirit living in us! And we can have, and do have, these things for all of our lives. Maybe you feel the same tension of being a believer but struggling to experience them in your life. Maybe you know a student who desperately needs to be encouraged to pray and ask God to give them these things. My hope and challenge for us all is to be a people who walk by the Spirit and rely on Him to give us love, joy, and peace all year long! If you are following Christ, then this is your reality. Now, ask the Lord to help you experience it more this year than ever before!
Brian Van Doren