Being Joy to the World

Over the last four days, I have been at an event each day where we sang the Christmas carol “Joy to the World.” Four days, four renditions of “Joy to the World.” Yes, I realize it’s the Christmas season, and this is a popular Christmas carol. Pretty words. Pretty simple tune to sing along with.

But when I end up with the same message coming from disparate sources, I figure it’s time to pay closer attention. Perhaps God has something he wants me to hear. Or practice.

So somewhere on the third trip through—right after my husband had preached that when we as Christians live out love, the world takes notice and we are fulfilling the Lord’s Prayer of seeing God’s “will be done on earth”
I really listened to the words:

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

We ready our hearts, ridding ourselves of all of the distractions that push God out of his kingship of our lives.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

We have a song to sing, a truth to express—God reigns, he is King.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

This is the one that really slapped me in the face. I’ve always thought (if—to be honest—I ever thought about the words at all) this was talking about some future day when God would heal the world, removing the curse of sin. And that will be true.

But this day, it occurred to me that part of this is also our job as Christ’s bride, living on earth. We are to be his pure, singularly focused bride, and so we don’t allow sin and the sorrows it brings to grow in our lives. We don’t allow the thorns of the world’s distractions to rise up and infest our relationship with our bridegroom Jesus.

And maybe, just maybe, “he comes to make his blessings flow” through us. Through us as his love overflows into a hurting world. Through us as we devote ourselves to loving God and loving others. Through us as we live out the truth and grace of God the next verse of the song talks about.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Can I with intention choose to share the “wonders of his love” with those around me? Can I plan to live life as a devoted bride, loving God with all I am and “making his blessings” flow by loving others because he has asked me to?

What does it look like? It looks like a smile at the convenience store clerk when I have to drag my body inside for the receipt the gas pump wouldn’t spit out. It’s making eye contact with that customer and listening with care to the older woman who wants to tell me all about her troubles. Simple things, really, but as I begin to be more aware of the people around me and choose love, I imagine it will get tougher.

For my friend Lisa it means spending every Tuesday sitting in a church basement with refugees speaking languages she doesn’t know in order to be a loving presence.

For my friend Anita it means caring for four children under age 10 while her husband travels extensively for Wycliffe Bible Translators so that people without the Word of God in their heart language can get it.

For my hairdresser it meant listening to all of her clients’ political opinions (including mine) during a fractious election season and responding graciously to each of us. And in addition, she listens to problems and fears, and she prays.

Where has God placed you to share “the wonders of his love”?

What thorns infest the ground of your heart that need to be pulled out so you can “make his blessings flow”?

“Joy to the world, the Savior reigns.”
May we bring his joy to our worlds as we let him reign in our lives for his glory!


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