JOY seems to be in short supply in the adult world nowadays. It's hard to find a smiling face in the city crowd. If you asked anyone for an explanation, he or she would probably tell of harsh circumstances, sickness, or unhappiness that have all too easily obscured the carefree enjoyment that filled earlier years. But joy doesn't depend on circumstances. Jeremy Regard, a welder from a village at the foot of the Jura Mountains, apparently knew this truth. Jeremy was sent to a concentration camp in January 1944 with six thousand other Frenchmen. Here he found joy even in the midst of horror. Jeremy loved to tell stories, but the one he came back to often was the time he had been to America to meet with his fellow Christian Scientists.
Jacques Lusseyran, a survivor of the camp, tells of the indelible impression this man made on him: ``Jeremy was an example: he found joy in the midst of Block 57. He found it during moments of the day where we found only fear. And he found it in such great abundance that when he was present we felt it rise in us. Inexplicable sensation, incredible even, there where we were: joy was going to fill us.
``Imagine this gift which Jeremy gave us! We did not understand, but we thanked him, time and again.
``What joy?...the joy of being alive in this moment, in the next, each time we became aware of it.... It was a pardon, a reprieve, there, all of a sudden, just a few feet from hell. I knew this state through Jeremy. Others knew it also, I am sure.
``The joy of discovering that joy exists, that it is in us, just exactly as life is, without conditions and which no condition, even the worst, can kill.''1
This moving tribute to a humble, loving man who lived his Christianity so joyously that it touched many of those who were with him, gives us a glimpse of man as wholly spiritual -- the image of God.
We learn in Christian Science that God and man are inseparable. Christ Jesus' example illustrates for us that as we live in conscious unity with God, the Father, we can never lack any good. In his Sermon on the Mount he taught his disciples how to find lasting happiness, and his teachings are just as applicable for ustoday. He showed that the Christly qualities he exemplified so perfectly -- humility, meekness, mercy, purity, peaceableness, and a commitment to righteousness, even in the face of persecution -- are always blessed of our Father. And we can see that to live by these precepts as he did would be to discover the kingdom of God within us -- within our consciousness moment by moment.
One of the Bible commentators speaks of Christ Jesus' Beatitudes in this way: ``Blessedness is higher than happiness. Happiness comes from without, and is dependent on circumstances; blessedness is an inward fountain of joy in the soul itself, which no outward circumstances can seriously affect. Blessedness consists in standing in a right relation to God, and so realising the true law of man's being.''2
These concepts are the very opposite of the self-assertiveness and ambition that worldly thought claims are essential for success and happiness. Joy can seem fragile and easily crushed when it is too narrowly centered on a person or event. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: ``Who that has felt the loss of human peace has not gained stronger desires for spiritual joy? The aspiration after heavenly good comes even before we discover what belongs to wisdom and Love. The loss of earthly hopes and pleasures brightensthe ascending path of many a heart. The pains of sense quickly inform us that the pleasures of sense are mortal and that joy is spiritual.''3
From the earliest time that Jesus declared he was fulfilling the role of the promised Messiah, he experienced ridicule, hatred, and persecution. And yet his obedience to God, and his love for mankind, never wavered. A little before his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, which threatened to extinguish his God-given mission, he assured his disciples that he was aware of God's love ever with him and them. He said: ``If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.''4
The Master taught that in obedience to God and in Christly compassion for others we find our own love fulfilled. This is the true secret of joy!
1Jacques Lusseyran, Le monde commence aujourd'hui (Paris: Editions de la Table Ronde, 1959). Translated by Noelle Oxenhandler in Parabola, May 1986, p. 26. 2J. R. Dummelow, The One-Volume Bible Commentary (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1936), p. 639. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 265. 4John 15:10, 11.
This article is a condensed version of an editorial that appears in the March 28 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. - NO DAILY BIBLE VERSE TODAY -