Last Sunday I was skimming through the ads that come with the Sunday newspaper (yes, I am one of those bargain hunters and budget watchers who actually reads through those ads!). The weekly Target ad caught my eye. On the front page, in big letters it said, “Joy makers.” The pictures on the page were of a L.O.L. Bigger Surprise (whatever that is), a child-sized John Deere Power Pull Tractor, a sticker maker, a doll in a sleigh pulled by a horse and accompanied by a dog, a camera, and a 55-inch TV.
This ad apparently intended to communicate that if you received gifts such as these for Christmas, they would bring you joy. And many of us fall for that type of marketing. We believe that somehow certain possessions will bring us joy. As children, we can easily become convinced that if we just receive a particular Christmas gift—maybe a doll or a toy tractor or even an L.O.L. Bigger Surprise—everlasting joy will be ours. And sometimes, asadults, we can convince ourselves that if we just had that big screen TV or new gadget, our joy would be complete.
But those beliefs are wrong. I had a TV for many years of my life and, looking back, it never brought me true joy. It brought me entertainment and distraction…but not joy. And at this point in my life, I can only remember one or two toys I got for Christmas as a kid. They were fun to play with for a while and brought fleeting enjoyment but by the next Christmas—sometimes by the next month—they were long forgotten. Certainly not a lasting source of joy.
Christmas, though, is a time of year when the true source of lasting, unfading joy is staring us right in the face. In Luke 2:10, when the angel appears to the shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth he says, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The news of Jesus’ arrival on our planet is a source of joy; in fact, it is a source of great joy. And that joy is meant for all people—not just for those who can afford the trendiest toys or the newest gadgets.
The good news is that the Savior, the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah has come. He has saved us from sin and death, from separation and alienation from God. And he has saved us for eternal life, dwelling in his presence, abiding in relationship with him. He did so at enormous cost to himself out of a heart of unfathomably immense love for us.
This is joy…being overwhelmed by this great love. Psalm 16:11 assures us that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy; in his right hand there are pleasures forever. When we believe in him, we have joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). And it is not a joy that fades,for its source is not something that can break or diminish. It is a joy that noone and nothing can ever take away from us, as long as we remain in his presence (John 16:22). It is a joy that is full and complete, lacking in nothing (John 15:11).
Jesus is the only true “Joy Maker.” In him we can stand in the presence of his glory, blameless with great joy (Jude 1:24). His offer is almost beyond comprehension, but it is real and only requires that we throw ourselves into his open arms, trust him, and receive joy unspeakable.