The Art of Celebration

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One of the privileges we carry as Christians is the art of celebration. And I say art because it’s much more of a skill that we hone over time than a natural gift we’re born with. The fact is, we’re born jealous, so celebrating others who are living through an experience greater than our own is contrary to our first nature. Yet it’s in this mystery of celebration that we position ourselves to receive our own experience.

Jesus shares this deeply profound yet shockingly simple Kingdom principal in Luke 16:12: “And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

Often this scripture is used in the context of finances or physical possessions, which are both sound applications. But it also applies to the mental, emotional, spiritual and experiential aspects of our lives. Until we’re able to truly celebrate the seasons of those around, we can not expect to enter a similar season; such nearsightedness is the very issue Jesus was trying to address.

Sometimes it’s hard to find virtuous thing to celebrate in the midst of cultures that may promote godlessness, whether those cultures be individual family units or national communities. But there’s something there worth celebrating; the superior question is will we hunt for it? Because this is how Jesus approached his arrival on earth: surrounded by immorality and godlessness, yet poised to love the hell out of humanity, celebrating who he envisioned us to be.

The big takeaway for us as New Lifers is to look for and celebrate everything we see the Holy Spirit doing. Whether He’s at work healing in an instant or doing so over time, saving today or carefully plodding over decades, redeeming an investment day-one or stretching it out over a long-term plan, we must be a people that recognize His handiwork and honor His activity at whatever stage He’s choosing to operate in.

Look at the life of someone around you today, look for the evidence of God in their lives (trust me, He’s there), and celebrate. You’ll be happy you did; so will your future.

Congratulations to my very dear friends Joseph and Ciara Gilchrist. Jennifer and I are honored to be a part of your lives, and to have had the distinct privilege of marrying you both today. I love you “forever and always.”

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  • http://www.shanedeal.com Shane Deal

    Thank you so much for posting this, over the course of the past, oh probably eight and a half months, I’ve been pondering things very much along these lines. I think it was early November of last year when I saw in someone new an inexplicable quality, and I wondered what it was that they had, so I began to ponder it in my journals. The resulting questions and the journey that followed didn’t really answer the question, but it did teach me a great deal about how precious people are, pretty much altered my view of humanity as a whole, and brought about a transformation in how I view people in general, the gift of it being that I’m finding myself more ready to see the extraordinary in the most ordinary places.

    Reading this, I recognize that what I was doing all this time, was celebrating the story of another. I don’t know if because some in my circle are so inclined to the darkness, that the light of those who truly are gems, jewels among thorns, if you will, shine all the brighter for it, or if in the lifting of my eyes to those around me, I saw those who shine like the stars in the heavens. I still count the thorns as precious, but it hurts to be close to them.

    In the shining of the stars, I’m reminded of a friend of mine who I’ve long described in my journals as holding, if you will, a measure of invisibility. Which is to say, when one sees her, it is like you see her, but you don’t see her. It’s as though you’re looking through something greater, as though she herself is but a crystal, clear, from which an inner light shines forth, and what you see first, is not her, but Christ, I think.

    Which brings me back to the stranger mentioned above, I think what it is that is so indescribable, is something of the same as I see in my friend.

    Turns out, they’re everywhere, if you but look. Miracles, so extraordinary in their ordinariness.

    I suppose, now that you mention it, I do enjoy celebrating the work in others, I think in some ways it is one of my greatest joys, and to me, to watch the hardening of a heart, one of my deepest fears.

    Which is not to say I never feel jealousy, envy, and so forth. I do, and probably more often than I’m aware of. Nevertheless, I am both thrilled, and a little bit puzzled, when upon finding one who is better than me at, well, just about everything, I didn’t feel jealousy, but an inexplicable excitement, one might say joy really.

    What I’m trying to say, is that this is a fantastic way of viewing people, often times, one filled with extraordinary surprises, hidden joys, and at times the weight of burdens even, but in a good way. Not that they themselves are the burden insofar as in the seeing the weight of the world upon their shoulders your heart goes out to them, crying to bear the burden with them, if you will. I think the joy of the celebration truly is worth the pain of the burden. Sometimes it hurts, so much.

    I really like this post, it reminds me of how some appear to me, and how delightful a thing I find it when these things are seen. Every once in awhile, I admit, you even see people, and you ask yourself, ‘how is it possible that they even exist?’ You find someone that is ‘like a celebration’ that has invaded from another world, crossing over into the mundane existence of this one. It is something that in my observation, the few times I’ve seen it to this extent, has been in the lives of believers, which suggest to me, that it is indeed a glimpse of Heaven shining through them. I suppose it’s like discovering in your wardrobe, another world, with a lantern perhaps, and a beaver that talks.

    Hope that makes sense, and once again, thank you so much for posting this, it’s an awesome post!

    -Shane

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      @Shane: some really beautiful stuff in here. I smell hints of heaven throughout it. Honored you shared some of these deeper thoughts with us; very significant. I can’t help but feel your observational experiences are quite similar to the way the Father is enamored with watching us.