“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious JOY, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9
The title of the sermon at my church last Sunday was “Inappropriate Joy.” When I first read it on the bulletin, I’m not going to lie I thought, “Say what?!” I’ve always heard the terms “unspeakable joy” or “unending joy,” but inappropriate? I needed an explanation, as I’m sure you do too.
We watched a clip from a documentary about the Mouk People of Papua New Guinea. These people lived in constant fear of the spirits of their ancestors, and had never heard of God. They performed rituals with a mask to summon the spirits, but if any woman in the tribe saw the mask she was executed. Beating of women and children was common.
A missionary couple entered their community, learned their language, and came to understand the way they live. Once they had built solid relationships, they began teaching Old Testament stories chronologically every day, twice a day for two or three months. All 300 or so of the tribe members were present without fail. Jesus Christ was not even mentioned until after two months, when these people were able to understand the whole picture. They learned about the life of Jesus, and He became their hero. Finally, when the day came to explain Christ’s death and resurrection, that He was their sacrificial lamb, and that He paid the price for their sin, something amazing happened.
Although the Mouk were generally considered a restrained people, one by one tribe members stood up and passionately proclaimed that they believed Christ was the savior for their sins. Others would shout, “Ee-taow!” meaning “It is true!” Spontaneous rejoicing broke out, as a sense of amazing relief washed over these formally fearful people. They jumped, shouted, and physically lifted each other in the air for 2.5 hours!! THAT is JOY. Every member of the tribe came to know Jesus that day.
You can watch The Mouk Story on YouTube, because I promise you it is something you need to see to believe. Those people were overcome with the joy that is found in the gospel story. I pray often that I would never lose or take for granted the indescribable joy that comes from knowing what Jesus Christ did for us. It is the greatest act of love in human history, and it’s a BIG DEAL. It is a joy that doesn’t make sense to the world, because it has nothing to do with our circumstances and it’s nothing we expected: baby in a barn, friend of sinners, Savior on a Cross, Risen King. It’s inappropriate. It is deep rooted and it cannot be explained. Despite our current trials, discontentment, and unresolved areas of our lives, the joy in Christ remains.
Most importantly, this joy is so out-of-this-world incredible that it wasn’t meant to be kept to ourselves. I have felt the joy of Christ from God himself, the people in my life and the experiences I’ve had. The support of my friends and family on my trip to Romania this May overwhelms me, and it brings me a joy that I’ve GOT to share. I can’t wait to watch the joy of Christ work through Team Romania and enter the hearts of all of God’s children. EE-TAOW!