Jim Denison on What Does the Bible Say About Joy?

We can’t talk about joy unless we first talk about our need for joy, the reason why we need joy in our culture.

From a theological perspective, this takes us back to the division between soul and spirit that characterizes our culture and cuts us off from the God who is the source of joy, the God who is the source of life, the only God that really is the source of that which our hearts most need.

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Six centuries before Plato, there was a philosopher named Orpheus. He had an idea that the soul existed in a pre-incarnate state, and it sinned, we would say, and it was punished by being put in a body. He thought the whole point of life was to live in such a way that when we die, our souls would go back where they came from. This notion influenced Protagoras, which then influenced Plato, who influenced the whole Western world.

That’s why we have this idea in the West that there’s the spiritual and the secular, Sunday and Monday. We’ve segregated God into a part of our lives.

The Romans had this transactional religion where you sacrifice to the gods, so that they would bless your crops or keep you safe at war, whatever it is you wanted.

At that time, you would have this distant relationship with God, where God was just a part of your life rather than the Lord of your life.

If we made that decision, we would cut ourselves off from the God who gives life and gives eternal life, from the God who was the source of joy, from the God who is the source of that which we most need.

Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in him.”

We’re made that way because we were just created that way. It’s like cutting flowers off to put them in a vase where you can put them in water. But if they’re not attached to the roots, eventually they’re going to die.

That’s where we are as a culture.

So when a pandemic comes along, or a terrible circumstance, we have no place to turn because we’ve been cut off at the roots, and the roots that are the basis of our joy are no longer there.

We’ve separated ourselves from God. And we’re therefore missing the joy that can be found only when we’re connected to the Lord of joy, to the God who gives joy.

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SOURCE: Denison Forum, Jim Denison

Adapted from Dr. Jim Denison’s daily cultural commentary at www.denisonforum.org. Jim Denison, Ph.D., is a cultural apologist, building a bridge between faith and culture by engaging contemporary issues with biblical truth. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture in February 2009 and is the author of seven books, including “Radical Islam: What You Need to Know.” For more information on the Denison Forum, visit www.denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit www.twitter.com/jimdenison or www.facebook.com/denisonforum. Original source: www.denisonforum.org.

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