THERE ARE SEVERAL RITUALS she suggests that I find interesting — like thanking your clothes for their service before you discard them. A real sense of gratitude.
But it is her question that intrigues me. Does it spark joy?
What brings us joy? We Americans are the richest and yet unhappiest people of all time. We know, whether or not we admit it or not, stuff does not bring us joy, but we accumulate more and more kitchen accessories, tools, sports equipment, shoes, books, we don’t use or really want — earthly possessions that take up space; purchases that demand upkeep and protection; and belongings that tether our hearts so much that we question whether they belong to us or we to them.
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MARIE KONDO WANTS US to say goodbye to things we don’t need, so we can gratefully have room for what sparks joy. Deep down we know that even the most immaculately folded shirt cannot ultimately spark lasting joy. Our most beloved and meaningful trinkets don’t really spark lasting joy.
Marie Kondo — through her book, her Netflix series — inspires people to let go of tangible things in pursuit of joy. I did it. Cleaned my closet. Decluttered drawers. Reorganized the kitchen. Now I’m tackling my church office — discarding books that are out of date.
I cannot deny that my heart feels lighter, knowing I have breathing room in my closets and drawers. But if I or you or we think that is the end of the process, we are mistaken. For ultimately, any happiness this brings is fleeting.
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WHAT SPARKS JOY? Christ sparks lasting joy. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
When we are rooted in Christ, our abundance rests not in how much or little we own, but in who owns us. It’s then we are closest to the kingdom of God.
What sparks joy? Jesus sparks joy. But the joy that Jesus promises is not happiness that comes from pleasure or from a closet filled with clothes or a closet emptied. It is only the joy of Jesus that is “down in our hearts to stay.”
Jesus sparks joy. Joy is our heart’s awareness of God’s never-ending, never-tiring, passionate love for each and every one of us exactly how we are right now. Warts and all. Mistakes and all. Sins and all.
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WHAT SPARKS LASTING JOY is knowing that there is nothing that we can say or not say, believe or not believe, do or not do, that will cause God to love us even one notch less. And our joy is somehow also our deep and passionate longing for God in return.
Jesus sparks joy.
We need to remember that because when we forget that Jesus sparks joy, we are prone to accept cheap substitutes. We turn to:
But we know that none of these things brings us joy. The only thing that can satisfy is the joy that Jesus promises. The joy that is ours when are hearts are aware that we are the Father’s beloved children, without condition or exception.
Jesus sparks joy.
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HERE’S YOUR homework assignment: Take the time to declutter your lives with what doesn’t spark joy down in your hearts to stay.
Do it today.
Joy is not optional. Joy is not a nice-to-have-when-I-have-time-for-it.
Joy is essential. Joy is essential to our individual humanity, and joy is essential to our identity as Jesus’ church.
When Jesus sparks joy, our hearts are set on fire by the Holy Spirit. And the kingdom of God is at hand.
— Keith Cardwell