One thing that nearly everybody in a Presbyterian church can tell you is what our chief purpose is. As is well-known (from Q.1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism): “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.” But I wonder if we only do the first half of it. We’re big on glorifying God - but enjoying him? The glory of God is of paramount importance, we reason; surely my own enjoyment is secondary at best, perhaps even irrelevant.
We’re accustomed to concepts like self-denial and cross-carrying in the Christian life.
Words like perseverance, discipline and obedience are frequently used.
And that’s all important.
But it’s not the whole story.
The Christian life - rightly understood and lived - is a journey-of-joy from beginning to end, even through the tough stuff.
Sometimes we perhaps can be tempted to think that we shouldn’t be seeking after joy – as if enjoyment of glorifying God would actually diminish any good in the act of worship. But actually, God’s greatest gift to us is himself – and it would be verging on the blasphemous to refuse to enjoy so rich, so generous and so sumptuous a gift!
The American Reformed Baptist John Piper is well-known for his writings on what he calls ‘Christian hedonism’ – and he insists that: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” And long before him, the Puritan Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) wrote that to merely understand the perfections of God is not worship; worship is, rather, our joy within that reacts to God’s revelation of his glory and pours out of us. Worship is the overflow of a heart filled with joy and adoration – not exclusively for what God has done, but simply for who he is.
The Shorter Catechism itself points to Psalm 73:25-28 as justification for its contention that we ought to enjoy God. These verses contain assurances of God’s presence and guidance, and the psalmist expresses his deep desire for, and satisfaction in, God: “Whom have I in heaven but you?” he asks. “And earth has nothing I desire besides you … God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever … as for me, it is good to be near God …”
So let me ask you:
Are you enjoying God, and the relationship he has made possible, through his Son?
Do you enjoy obeying his commands – which, according to John, are not burdensome?
Do you enjoy singing the glory of God’s name?
There is no greater joy than to glorify God.
The world – despite constantly seeking pleasure – has no conception of what REAL joy is. John Newton was right: “Solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know.”
Don’t be robbed of your joy – but rejoice always in the Lord.
It’s OK to rejoice - and when you’re rejoicing, it’s OK to let it show!
So may our joy grow and deepen, as we increasingly discover what it means to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.