By Dan Jean
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
If you are like me, the busyness, pressures, and deadlines of this season can be unsettling. I hope for peace and joy, but often find unrest and tension instead. The Christ child seems to be hidden somewhere in the crowd of shoppers, the plates of cookies, and the big day looming ahead on the calendar. Where is the joy I desire? How can I find peace and rest while truly enjoying all the season has to offer?
A popular term describing the mental state of a person totally immersed in an activity for its own sake is “flow.” People verbalize their flow experiences using the metaphor of a water current carrying them steadily along. Athletes and artists describe such special moments in a very positive way, characterized by energized focus and real joy. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous contentment. Even when facing a competition or a deadline, a person in flow is energized and calm, at peace.
Paul’s passage from Romans invites us to a lifestyle of flow, with good pushing evil aside and clearing the way for the focused and passionate practices of devotion, honor, zeal, and spiritual fervor. The fruits? Joy, patience, and faith. Joy is a passionate state where life flows and energy is abundant and contagious. Patience – not anger – overcomes difficulty. Faith fuels a natural and regular practice of prayer.
Christmas is about the great love God has for us flowing into this world. The son of God came to light the way for all people. Today Jesus lights the path to abundant life for each of us. Let’s begin to imagine and live a life as Paul describes, love flowing. The joy that flows from sincere love will propel us forward – joyful, patient, and faithful.