No, the picture is not Josh although he often has a big grin on his face, just like this guy.
Some time ago I came to the conclusion of a personal study of 2 Corinthians. A letter in which Paul spends time a) defending his right to be an apostle, b) having a crack at how counter to the gospel their values have become and c) boasting about his weakness and complete reliance on Jesus.
So how might a letter finish off? I imagine if I was writing it, it would sound something like: “When I get there, you lot had better applied this stuff or there’ll be hell to pay.” There is a tiny bit of that but not to anywhere near the degree that you’d expect.
Having said that, reading the very last verses of the letter (13:11-14) what particularly jumped out at me was the first two words of verse 11. Simply put: “Be joyful.” That’s a command. Moreover, that’s a command from someone who has just essentially told them off and rightfully so.
It seems to me that Paul is aware that so much of their moral issues, heresy and un-repentance could be fixed simply by remembering that God is to be their highest joy.
Think about it, any time we fall to any sin, it’s basically because it a) looks more enticing that the experience of knowing God and b) is a coping mechanism for stress and worry which is intensified by our reluctance to go to God first in prayer in the first place.
As I sat there, reflecting on the Corinthian situation and how Paul finishes his correspondence to them, a few things occurred to me.
As a Christian, aside from contexts of deep grief and loss, any time I am not joyful it is really due to a lack of faith. The positive flip-side of that is choosing joy is choosing faith….and visa versa; the choice of faith is a choice towards joy.
True joy is being able to choose joy…for God’s sake not our own.
Sometimes choosing joy instead of worry is the most practical way of taking up our cross and following him.