What joy! As our faith and love deepen in our Christian lives, we have probably experienced this inexpressible and glorious joy in brief, but tantalizing moments.
ʺThough 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 goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.ʺ (1 Peter 1: 8-9)
What joy! As our faith and love deepen in our Christian lives, we have probably experienced this inexpressible and glorious joy in brief, but tantalizing moments. Some experience it more and more often because their faith is well practiced and has become profoundly deeper than most. Because of their faith in the one whom they have not seen; because of their love for the one whom they have not seen, their souls are beginning to see and to sense the joy that awaits them in heaven. Those who believe this deeply begin to love more deeply. Because their souls are approaching the goal of their faith, salvation, people are able to see that joy in them in everything that they do in their lives. These profoundly faithful and loving individuals take joy in serving others. They experience joy when they pray in solitude and silence, and when they pray in and through their loving actions out in the world.
As believing Christians, we know that Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection brought about our salvation. We know that our souls are made for salvation. But knowing and believing are not the same act. We can know things, but never follow through on that knowledge. Knowledge may give us momentary intellectual delight, but never joy. It is when we come to truly believe in it that the idea of our salvation takes on flesh. When our knowledge becomes that deeper thing we call belief, it becomes incarnated in our personal, hands on service to those who are sick, lonely, hungry and thirsty, or in prison. When we come to love Jesus, even though we have not personally seen him in the flesh, we begin to imitate his love in everything that we do. His love becomes incarnated in us and others can see it in our loving actions, in our compassion, in our patient endurance, in our willingness to suffer joyfully for the greater good of others, not just for our own good.
This is what it means to be a follower of Christ today. He is not with us in the flesh today. But his Holy Spirit is with us and wants to touch the world, to heal the wounded soul, to embrace the lonely and the abandoned among us, through our hands. He wants to listen to the sorrowful and the broken-hearted through our ears. He desires to speak faith, hope and love to a troubled world through our voices. He wants to walk with those who have been wearied by life’s travails, to hold them up when they stumble through our feet and arms.
Yes. Though we have not seen him, we love him. And because of this, he is able to be present to the suffering world through us. Because Jesus died for us, and because he rose from the dead we have been saved. Because we love him whom we have not seen more and more every day; because our belief in him is growing deeper every day, we are being filled ʺwith an inexpressible and glorious joyʺ and, as a result, we live joyfully, even in the midst of this old, often troubled world. For, we are ʺreceiving the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.ʺ What joy!SKM: below-content placeholder