This past weekend I was privileged to hear and be in the presence of Peter Xu, founder of one of the largest Chinese house church movements. His life and story sounds and feels like it could be fit right in the middle of the book of Acts. Imprisoned 5 times, tortured on many occasions, and sentenced to death – all the while maintaining the joy of the Lord.
This week I’m sharing some reflections on that time. Here is reflection # 2:
2) Happiness and Joy are two separate concepts, conceived from different sources. Happiness can be fleeting and is birthed out of, and many times dependent on our circumstances. Joy is steadfast and rooted in Jesus Christ. If our joy is rooted in Christ we can maintain joy regardless of our circumstances. Pastor Xu must have mentioned 20 times when referring to his different periods in prison the joy he was able to experience – once even thanking the prison officials for his torture and mistreatment – not because he is a masochist, but because in his mind, his faith in God was tested and found true. He was rejoicing in knowing he was a ‘real’ Christian – his faith had been tested and found genuine.
John Piper says it this way: “If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.”
Peter Xu really believes that to find find the joy filled life, one has to lose his life. “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
So then, it is not circumstantial happiness that produces worship, but joy rooted in Christ and the overwhelming love of God in our hearts. David said it this way in Psalm 63:3: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
Where is your treasure? Are you treasuring Christ Himself, or only the good things he gives you?