With head bowed and eyes closed, the prayer group member’s heart sank as they listened to their leader communicate the idea that “experiencing Jesus” and “enjoyment” are two mutually exclusive events.
They thought, Ugh! It’s prayers like these that take the wind out of the sails of believers who are passionate about their relationship with Christ.
Believers who just might find something more enjoyable to do on a Friday night. (Did someone say Netflix?)
Believers who might never experience a taste of the ultimate enjoyment that is already theirs for the receiving in Christ.
Even though the prayer group leader was sincere and well-meaning, it did not change the fact that they were sincerely wrong.
Sadly, their entire prayer reeked of legalism.
The epidemic of legalism among Christians has been spreading like wildfire throughout the ages.
Living in this world, it’s so easy to make our relationship with Christ about what we are doing for Him, rather than enjoying what He has already done for us and in us through the cross and resurrection.
I know. I was a card-carrying legalist for years.
Then I began to understand the incredible riches of His grace. The gift of His Holy Spirit eternally fused with my new spirit (Ezek. 36:26; 1 Cor. 3:17; 6:17).
The gift I’m sure I will continue to unwrap in awe and wonder until the moment I see Him face to face. (Tears.)
One of the reasons I wrote my debut devotional study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love, is to help combat the lie that if you become a Christian, it’s the end of all earthly pleasure as you know it.
In a sense, it’s true. Because there is nothing on earth that compares with the joy a believer in Christ can experience in Him: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17 NASB).
Joy is an automatic result for the Christian who realizes that—through faith in Christ alone—they are the righteousness of God in Him and have peace with Father God (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:1).
If a Christian understands that Christ already
- wiped out their lifetime sin debt forever,
- killed off their old, sin-filled self,
- gave them a brand-spankin’-new, flawless identity in Him, and
- joined His life with theirs,
then life on planet earth in union with His Spirit couldn’t be more enjoyable.
I wrote about mastering the art of enjoying Jesus in His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love:
Jesus wants us to enjoy life. His Word tells us that He “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17 NASB).
What’s more, He wants us to realize that He is our life and the source of our greatest enjoyment.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that man’s chief purpose in life is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”*
We enjoy and glorify our Beloved when we experience and express His cherishing love and exuberant life.
As the bride of Christ, we need to learn how to master the art of taking great delight in Him.
Just as Julia Child mastered the art of French cooking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could master the art of enjoying Jesus?
I want to experience and enjoy Him as much as possible this side of eternity. I want joy to be the marrow that courses through my veins.
I want to come to the end of my life on this earth (if Jesus tarries) and be able to say that I truly lived—because I intimately knew life Himself.
I want my first gaze into my Beloved’s eyes to be familiar, not foreign.
In my attempt to communicate to the bride of Christ how knowing her identity will enable her to experience and express His cherishing love and exuberant life, I’m reminded of a quote by theologian Dr. Howard Hendricks: “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews.”**
If we don’t understand and practice what we preach, how can we effectively teach others? No one wants to read a book on how to bake the perfect cherry pie unless we know the author makes delicious cherry pies!
Likewise, no one wants to read a book or listen to a message about how to enjoy Jesus unless the author or speaker consistently shows forth the fruit of delighting in Him.
For over ten years now, I have been on a journey of learning to rest in the shade of my Beloved’s grace and delighting in Him as I allow myself to experience His unconditional love.
While I cannot claim that I have mastered the art of enjoying Him, I will say that I am in hot pursuit.
The most important thing I’ve learned is something I’ve said before (in different ways) and will keep saying: the key to delighting in Jesus is to personally experience His delight in you.
He delights in and celebrates you at all times—simply because you are His.
Our Beloved is a Master at separating our who from our do. He is filled with compassion for us in our struggles. He’s not holding a hammer, ready to nail us if we don’t get our act together.
We can rest entirely in Him—in His love, power, goodness, and wisdom.
*“The Westminster Shorter Catechism,” The Westminster Presbyterian, accessed April 7, 2017, http://www.westminsterconfession.org/confessional-standards/the-westminster-shorter-catechism.php.
**Chris Adsit, “The Measure of a Ministry,” posted January 1, 2011, Discipleship Revolution, January–February 2011 issue, Mission Frontiers, accessed April 7, 2017, http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/the-measure-of-a-ministry.
I hope you enjoyed my excerpt. Even as I write this post, I sense Him reminding me once again that He adored me before I ever did one thing for Him and continually rejoices over me with singing, dancing, and shouts of joy (1 John 4:19; Zeph. 3:17).
And when I see (in my mind’s eye) Him doing this, I can’t help but enjoy Him!
Dear reader, do you believe that your Beloved wants you to enjoy your life in Him to the fullest? If you aren’t currently experiencing enjoyment in your relationship with Him, what do you think is hindering you?
Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!
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