“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” –John 15:9-17
This passage has spoken to me for years. I first noticed the phrase about complete joy in 1 John 1:4, “We write this to make our joy complete.” And then again in John 16:4, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” However, it wasn’t until I read the passage in John 15 that I understood what this phrase meant.
When I was first reading these passages, the phrase perplexed me. How could joy be complete? Isn’t it always increasing and decreasing? Or is the amount of Joy you have relevant to its completion? And is anything ever really complete? And then I stumbled upon the first appearance of this concept in John 15 and it all started to come together.
Here Christ is talking to His disciples in the final hours of His freedom as He speaks with them in the upper room at the last supper. He has just gotten done telling them that He will go away soon, but He will send to them His Spirit to guide them. Later in the next chapter Christ has to explain this, as the disciples still don’t understand what is going to happen in just a short time.
And in this passage Christ tells His disciples that to have Complete Joy, they must obey his commandment and his commandment is simple. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR! That is what God has called us to do, to love our neighbor, to love our friends and our enemies, the old the young and the in between. And we should all do this because Christ loved us first.
He then goes on to tell His disciples that they will suffer for Him and people are going to hate them for loving Christ, and following Him. However, they should love them all the more because they do not know the One that sent Him!
This is such a powerful passage, that even as Christ knew what was ahead of Him and what was ahead for His disciples, he still told them to love their neighbors, because this will bring them complete joy! Not complete happiness or complete satisfaction, but COMPLETE JOY!
Joy is different than happiness or even satisfaction, because happiness and satisfaction are based off of reactions to your circumstances. However, regardless of your circumstances and all that is going on around you, you can still choose to live in joy. You can still choose to live a life filled with joy no matter what is going on around you, whether you are going through the toughest season of your life or you are in the best season of your life, you can still live a life of love and joy because they are not swayed by the waves around you. They are only swayed by you and your willingness to put them on daily and to choose them above the negative feelings that may creep into your life!
So today I challenge you to go out and choose joy and choose it to completion! Go out and love your neighbor– not because of obligation, but because Christ first loved you and because you want to share that love that is flowing in and through you with the world!