Monday, December 3, 2012

Homily 41: On Joy and Salvation (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation...." Is. 12:3

"Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation...." Ps. 51:12

Salvation is meant to be a source of joy, because it brings us into intimate communion with God (John 17:1-3), who is the source of all joy (Ps. 16:11). This is significant for at least two reasons. The first is the fact that we are saved to something and not just from something. It is a mark of great failure against the American church that that fact is missed. Much of the nation views salvation as only an escape from Hell. They may be grateful for the escape, but after that it means nothing to them. It is a shame, a terrible shame, for the truth is that we are also saved to God: from unendurable sorrow to unending joy at its fullest. If salvation was more than just avoiding punishment, if it was also a matter of finding real joy, the Source and Person of real joy, then maybe we would have more to offer our country than either fire escapes or superficial notions about their "best life now."

The second significant thing is that our joy has a source, an object from which it receives its substance and strength, i.e., God Himself. This is the single yet chasmic difference between joy and happiness. Both are a general sense of inward goodness and peace, and both find their source in some object outside of the self: circumstances, events, persons, things, etc. The difference is that the objects of happiness are ephemeral while the objects of joy are sempiternal. The former's fade while the latter's last. That is why we find joy to be so much stronger than happiness: its object is unshaken and undimmed by the tremors of the world. So we see that not only is our salvation to be a source of joy and not just escape, it also will never fade because its object will never fail, for its object is God. Preach that to the nation, and they may not believe you, but at least they will have heard something worth believing.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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