The Discipline of Celebration
This is the final chapter in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, and for a little while there I had been wondering why this was the final element. It seems that most other disciplines mention the need for joy in some form in order to keep the discipline from becoming little more than Pharisaical rules to follow. But Foster makes a good point toward the end about joy leading into the disciplines and gaining pure joy only through obedience (which should play out into observing these disciplines). We cannot truly find joy until we have committed to true obedience, and we cannot exercise the Spiritual Disciplines without true joy.
This is a very nice, tight chapter to finish with. Celebration is a central need in the Christian faith, and it is really the only way to find joy. Joy is a simple concept, yet it is incredibly hard to follow. We often equate joy with happiness, but they are two separate concepts. As I already mentioned, joy is only found in true obedience to God. Only once we have given up our anxiety and cares for the corporeal existence we lead and allow God to be our true source of life can we be truly joyful. Joy can lead to happiness, and there are elements of the two that overlap, but joy is so much more than mere happiness, and is the thing we should strive toward out of these two.
Foster gives some very simple and practical ideas of how to obey and seek out joy. But be wary. Though they are simple, they are not always easy. I can attest to that at this point in my life. Today as I read this chapter I find myself challenged and convicted as to my own lack of joy. I need to do some work to reignite my obedience so that I may rediscover true joy. I must rediscover Jubilee and rediscover this discipline of Celebration that I used to embody so well.
And I look forward to this and all the rest of these disciplines as I do just that.
Do you have true joy?