Friday, September 6, 2013

Joy Spoilers

A recent 4 year old birthday celebration taught me something helpful.  Maybe this will be helpful to you as well. 

A little sister can be the delight of an older brother or bring much dismay.  As you know it goes back and forth with emphasis on delight.  However, observing the obvious celebration of heart in the little girl as she is loved on and given presents and attention only led the older brother to find any way positive or negative to gain a bit of attention.  Inside his longingness was “me, me, look at me!”  It is a painful display.  Been there done that as maybe you have as well. 

So, here is a joy spoiler.  As the excited little girl opens her present tearing a chunk of paper at a time.  Her brother seeking to steal the show rather than support the sister’s joy begins to announce, “I know what it is!”  He wants to physically shift in to make sure he is the first to see, to say, to assure his place.  Adults and gift-givers are aware of the gift and can read the packaging too, but the need to be central is so big.  He has become a joy spoiler.  He is seeking to take the joy of the little girl experiencing the magic of the revealed treasure that awaits her.  It is hers to see, to enjoy, to unwrap, to be surprised, to be enamored, to be special. 

The spiritual life has many joys and God brings gifts for His loved ones to discover and unwrap along the way.  For the four year olds He has appropriate treasures and for the forty somethings He has something just right for who they are and what He sees will benefit them most where they are in their spiritual journey. 

Jesus realizing this with incredible insight says this to His followers in John 16:12: There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now.   Jesus was considerate and careful and giving each of His hearers hope of more to come.  He knew they couldn’t take every spiritual truth, but they could benefit from some truth at that time and learn more with help.  Then He let them know the Holy Spirit would be there for them in John 16:13: But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  There will be more gifts to open, discoveries to be made, surprises to be revealed.  As His followers were troubled He told them: So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. John 16:22 (NLT)  At the right time and in the right way Jesus will reveal Himself to them.  The joy of discovery.  The overwhelming element of surprise bringing rejoicing.  It is so cool. 
Imagine some young and excited person rejoicing in the joy of life in Jesus.  Then a joy spoiler comes along and steals the joy.  Paul ran into this with the Galatians take a look.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News
 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.  Galatians 1:6-7 (NLT)

Bad intel on what the Good News is stole the joy of a bunch of folks.  They turned their backs on God’s truth and grace and listened to joy spoilers who were jumping in to gain attention and applause for themselves.  That is bad news. 

Paul saw joy spoilers showing up and jumping into the middle of things in Thessalonica too.  The people there had been told that Jesus would be coming back and they were excited and expected to see Him when He came.  But some joy spoilers began telling people the Lord had already come and they missed out.  Paul wrote them to get them back on track and to return their joy. 

Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.  2 Thessalonians 2:2 (NLT)

This kind of thing has not only occurred in the distant past, but I have been so eager to present some wonderful thing to others that I didn’t even give them a chance to grow into it.  I have been in Bible studies where instead of allowing someone to discover an earth-shaking truth, unwrapping it with anticipation and being surprised by joy, I jump in and present with all my cleverness what is there.  It still may be a good thing for them.  But it is not as well seated or timed or joyous.  Arghhh, my ego out of control and seeking its own and not seeking the best for others is distressing.  It is my plan to better listen to the Lord and to support others in their joy of discovery. 

Children are wonderful teachers, and the class is always in session.  I think I’ll go out and see what gifts God has to be unwrapped today.