History Channel’s The Bible Shows How the Bible Can Be a Guide to Joy
April 4, 2013
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The Bible series on the History Channel was the number one show in all of television from 8:00-10:00 p.m. It commanded 10.8 million total viewers, and 3.2 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic. Since it began, over 50 million have seen at least a part of the series. This is considerably more than many so-called cutting edge shows enjoy on other platforms. If we are looking for joy, the place to look is the Bible. You could start by reading that joy-filled letter: Philippians. Read it again. Read it slowly. Read it as if your life depended on it. Take it with you on your iPhone when you ride the train and chew on the words like a prime steak perfectly cooked. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Think through the structure of that letter – the gospel structure – so that the architecture of Paul’s teaching, and Paul’s example, begins to become the architecture of your mind. For instance, notice the use of the word “really” in the first chapter, when he describes that what has happened to him has “really” turned out for the advance of the gospel. Think through how easy it would have been for him to have developed a different attitude to his suffering, to his imprisonment, and to the cynical use of his relative silence for his ministerial opponents to take the spotlight. Soak in the joy of that letter so that your sponge-like mind and heart are filled with its elements. Or think of that famous section in 1 Peter, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Our joy is normally thought to be concordant with our sensory perception of joy-worthy realities. We are joyful when we see good things, when we hear good things, when we touch good things. We are joyful when our football team does well; we are joyful when we eat gourmet food; we are joyful when we watch a first rate movie, or play a thrilling computer game; we are joyful when we see the smile on the face of our beloved, or our best friends. How can we be joyful in Jesus when we do not see him, touch him, or hear him? Peter has the answer: “you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Having heard the gospel,believed the gospel, therefore been born again by faith in Christ (“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3), we now have entered into a new state, a state called “salvation.” God has given us “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice…” (1 Peter 1:4-6a). Having been saved, we are gradually by God’s power carrying on being saved, and we know that one day we will be saved: enter into the inheritance of Christ. With all this in mind and in heart, we look out at the sensory realities around us and know we have something far more precious, special, lasting, and important than anything we can currently see, hear, or touch. We have Christ. We are saved. And therefore as we think on these things, as we reflect on this “salvation,” we “are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” In particular, the Psalms of Ascent are designed to lead us on a journey to joy. Imagine a group of pilgrims gathering together to go to Jerusalem. They are journeying from a far distant land, with the goal of finally arriving at the heart of God. This journey is a biblical journey that leads us, ultimately, in the epic, large-scale, grand narrative of the Bible, to Christ himself. There is therapy, healing, guidance, and credible resources for joy right in the heart of the Bible, in the Psalms of Ascent. Though other aspects of that journey to joy can be supported from many other sources – advice, friendship, and guidance – the Bible itself is the place to start, and is the place of prominence and authority. When someone is looking to find how to connect to life and joy, what they need most of all is to find that connection in the true God of the Bible. We can help them with that by encouraging a commitment to (re)discovering joy in Christ through the Bible. “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:2). It’s not old fashioned: it’s cutting edge. 50 million people and counting. Watching the Bible. Pastor Moody’s new book Journey to Joy will be released later this month from Crossway.]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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