How to Find Complete Joy
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4
The 12th step of AA says, Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. This isn’t presented as an optional step in AA. If I want recovery, I must work at all the steps. I must first get sober and then I must carry this message to others. It’s part of my own recovery to share it and if I refuse to do it, then I jeopardize my own recovery.
I’ve found this to be true in my own life. In my first couple of attempts at sobriety, I wouldn’t say I found authentic recovery. I just wanted my old life back and I knew I’d eventually be able to enjoy chemicals again. Additionally, I was more interested in my own privacy than in helping anyone. So, I just didn’t have much to share with the struggling addict and even if I had, I was too self-centered to do so. I didn’t stay sober very long. This last time, finding authentic recovery meant that, even early on in my journey, I began carrying the message to others who were struggling. I found that in doing so, I strengthened my own faith and recovery. I was doing it for them, but I was also doing it for me.
In today’s passage, the apostle John said something similar about our faith. He explained that just as he’d experienced a very real relationship with Christ, he must proclaim the gospel to others. John had been saved from himself and he wanted those who also needed salvation to find God as well. He also said though, that his joy was made complete through sharing his faith. He carried the message to be obedient to Christ. He carried the message for the sake of others. But, he also carried the message because he found joy in doing so.
I think we often miss this as Christians. Yes, we believe in God, but we still live for ourselves – just like everyone else. Living by faith means we must be transformed as we abandon our way for Christ’s. In being saved from ourselves, we must necessarily share this transformation with those who need it. This isn’t optional. If we want to know the joy for which we were created, we must experience salvation and then carry it to others.