Where We Find Meaning, Purpose, and Joy
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12
I’ve honestly always had this fear that following Christ meant giving up all the fun stuff in life. I believe that God wants what’s best for me, but deep down, I’m not sure that he wants me to be happy. And so, I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I’ve accepted the lie that to find fulfillment, I must follow my appetite. I’ve known I was doing wrong, but I’ve simply planned to ask forgiveness later. I’ll do all the things I want and then just throw myself on God’s mercy.
The fatal flaw in my plan is that following me hasn’t led to fulfillment and happiness. It’s led instead to misery, pain, and destruction. Sure, it was fun for a time. But there’s always a price to pay for immediate gratification and once the high wears off, the letdown and disaster eventually follow.
Most of us have been here. We’ve sought our joy, purpose, and meaning in the things we think we want – toys, relationships, status, appearance, sex, chemicals, or career. As Christians, we know God wants us to do something different, but we must first follow ourselves if we want to be happy, right? Then, when we still feel empty, we wonder why. The problem is that God designed us to be made whole and complete when we find our place in him. We’re never going to find true fulfillment in stuffing our appetite because that’s not how we were created.
In today’s passage, Paul taught that, as Christians, we’re all part of Christ’s body here one Earth. He’s physically gone, and so the Holy Spirit dwells in us, using us as Jesus’ manifest presence. We all belong, and we all have a part to play. The problem again is that we’d often rather follow ourselves than live in obedience to God because we think that’s how we find joy.
I don’t do it perfectly. I still struggle with my own broken appetite, and I still sometimes think I can make myself happy. I can truly say though that I’m infinitely more joyful now in attempting to live out my place in the body of Christ than I was in following me. It has required sacrifice. I’ve had to surrender some things. The only thing I’ve really lost out on though, is the misery of my way. In return, I’ve come to know my meaning and purpose. As it turns out, God actually does want me to experience a joyful life.