“Joy is a missional necessity.” Director, Ryan Ford
What is our mission? What is the thing that sets Christianity apart from everything else? What makes the submission of your whole self to its teachings worthwhile? In short, the answer is Jesus. He entered the womb of a virgin, dwelt among humanity, and ultimately sacrificed himself to pay the debt incurred by our sin. As his disciples, we are proclaiming the glory of the life he lived and the salvation that is available to every person through his death and resurrection. He commissioned us to live on this earth and scatter the seeds of the kingdom - his words of life. There is immense beauty in this mission when we consider the magnitude of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. He loves the world as a whole, yes. But, he also loves us on an individual, deeply intimate level. He sees our goodness, delighting in it. He loves us just the same in our badness, in the darkness of our thoughts. We do not disgust him or scare him. He formed us in our mother’s womb and called us by name before we ever had a chance to earn his devotion.
It is this revelation of Divine love that serves as the initial motivation for our evangelism. It lends an authenticity that keeps us from becoming fake. If we had no personal experience of the love of God we would have no sense of responsibility to tell people. We tell people about Jesus because he’s healed our hearts, and when you find a good thing, a truly good thing, you want others to understand it. Just as it is impossible to have a genuine mission without love, it is impossible to have a sustainable mission without joy. Joy is the thing that engenders perseverance and commitment. When you look forward to doing something, it never matters how exhausted you are. You’ll keep doing that thing. No matter how hard it gets, you will press on, knowing that the work is good and valuable. Joy is what separates vibrant evangelism from lifeless laboring. It is still possible to do all of the “good” things - form new connections, extend invitations, foster spiritual conversations - and do them with consistency and faithfulness, but totally lack any grasp of how magnificent the mere opportunity to tell others of Jesus is. At that point, the harvesting ceases to be a celebration and reduces to nothing more than an obligation to be dispassionately fulfilled, which will inevitably lead to feelings of resentment and irritation when the effort doesn’t prove to be immediately profitable.
At the end of the day, joy is a missional necessity because it is the outward, evangelistic expression of the knowledge that we are loved by a God who stepped out of eternity into time and space to be nearer to the brokenhearted. Not only did he write our names in the heavens, but he steadily calls all of creation to himself. It is a privilege that we get to participate in this calling, and we should approach it with unbridled fervor. The goodness of Jesus is worth shouting over. It’s worth dancing over. As the psalmist said,
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. [Psalm 4:7]
We are given an invitation to step into an incomprehensible, unexplainable joy. It exceeds anything and everything that could be offered in opposition because it is anchored in the cross of Christ. His love knows no bounds, so let our joy know no end.