Flashers Give Joy To Tourists – Best Money Ever Spent

If you can watch this without getting a lump in your throat, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am:

Of all the people in the crowd, I’d want to be the little girl on the lamppost!

They were performing Beethoven’s 9th, and after watching that video is there any question why we call that part of the piece Ode To Joy?

There’s something indescribable about joy. Sure we try to define it, but does a string of words – no matter how well put together – do justice to the essence of Joy?

A deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment. (dictionary.com.)

No, those words on the screen just don’t get the idea across. But that doesn’t mean Joy isn’t real. In fact, Joy is so real, it has spiritual significance.

Joy Under the New Covenant

In the New Testament, the word translated into English as “joy” is the Greek word chara, which is closely related to chairo meaning “rejoice” and charis often translated as “grace”. (Strong’s Greek Concordance 5479.) Rejoicing is what we might do when we experience joy and grace is certainly something to have joy in, so I can see how the Greek words are considered to be so closely related not only in spelling and origin but also in use and practice.

Here’s one example from the New Testament where God’s grace should certainly make us joyful:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9.)

Does anyone need more reason to be joyful? I was dead in sin, God in his grace made me alive, a free gift and not something I had to earn, and he has already seated me with Jesus in heaven. It doesn’t get better than that!

Joy Under the Old Covenant

What about Old Testament, though, is there no joy in the Old Testament? Sure there is.

Nehemiah had been appointed governor over Jerusalem, overseeing the reconstruction of a city that had experienced devastating wars and shepherding a people who had lived in far-off exile for over a generation. One day he gathered everyone together, adults and children, to hear the word of God. As they listened, God’s people started to understand how much they had strayed from the commands God had given through Moses.

They felt not joy but sadness, and experienced grief at their shortcomings. Nehemiah soon changed all that:

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. (Nehemiah 8:9-12.)

What had been made known to them, what turned their grief into joy? The explanation that this was a day holy to God. That this day was not about them. That this day was about God.

They became joyful when they realized it’s not about them but about God, and they grew strong in their joy of the Lord.

Eternal Joy

True joy has always been found in God and, like the ancient Israelites, we can look to him for that joy even when we know we have fallen short of his holiness. After all, our joy is not found in living up to his standards but in him living through us and bearing fruit in us as we abide in him. (John 15:1-8.) And as we focus upon him we stop thinking of ourselves, which leads to all the baggage we tend to carry around falling by the wayside. (Hebrews 12:1-2.)

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
(Henry J. van Dyke, Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, 1907.)

How’s this for a definition? Joy: It’s about God.

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13 Responses to Flashers Give Joy To Tourists – Best Money Ever Spent

  1. Jeannie says:

    That wasn’t what I expected from your title at all! 🙂 That was wonderful — beautiful music, beautiful faces. Loved those dancing kids!

    • Tim says:

      The title fooled you? Wonder how that happened …

      And weren’t the kids in that video wonderful? Soaking up culture while having more fun than they probably expected that day.

  2. nmcdonal says:

    Yay for joy! I love the study of the word “joy” John Piper does in “Desiring God” – he traces the prominent theme of joy from the OT through the New, and it’s amazing to see how interested God is in our joy. In fact, at some point Jesus gives it as his motivation for giving commands to his disciples: “I say these things SO THAT my joy may be in you, and your joy may be full.” How great to worship a joyful Savior who wants us to be as happy as he is.

  3. Aimee Byrd says:

    Best coin ever spent! And that little girl on the pole was adorable. Thank you for making my afternoon full of joy, Tim.

  4. Hi Tim, I loved the video and your thoughts about joy. Joy and grace are related – what an exciting concept! Can we have grace without joy or joy without grace? Hm, it’s past my bedtime – I’ll think about that one tomorrow…
    I’ve been doing a series about joy in my blog – you might like to check it out:
    (I’m pretty web-illiterate for someone who has a blog – don’t know if this will link you to the post on the Nehemiah passage or not…) Maureen

    • Tim says:

      Maureen, your take on the Nehemiah passage in the blog post you linked (worked like a charm, by the way) was excellent. I think that perfectionism can be such a killjoy; it’s only by focusing on Jesus’ perfect work on our behalf that we can ever hope to find contentment in who he has made us to be, and find the joy he desires us to have. As Nick said above, God actually wants us to have his joy, which is immeasurably more than any joy we could muster up on our own!

  5. No More Perfect says:

    I couldn’t see the video (when I pressed on it, the words “this video doesn’t exist” came up), but Ode to Joy has significant meaning to me. Firstly, it was the song I played, albeit a simplified version, at my first piano recital when I was around 5 or 6. Secondly, it has reminded me, a pessimist by nature, to not only be joyful in the good things God has granted me, but also to be joyful *in* Him.

    Tim, I appreciate your reminders. I am grateful to have you as my brother in Christ.

    (Btw, autocorrect tried to change that to “bother in Christ”. lol)

  6. David McCullough says:

    Your first sentence hooked me. I choked up watching the video and don’t know why. Maybe it’s because there seems to be so little joy in the world right now. Thanks for the reminder that it is there if I just shift my focus from things below to things above.

    • Tim says:

      I choked up too, as you can imagine. Music is so powerful, and God can draw us into deeper relationship with him through it. Amen.

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