A new word buzzword that we see popping up these days is “cancel culture.” It’s also known as “call-out culture” and “outrage culture.” You can see it online and in the media. The idea is if you take a stand and speak truth, you may be subject to call-out, outrage, and being canceled by the angry mob. As a result, people have become afraid to step out and stand out. But how much power does the world really have over Christians, anyway? Sure, they can take-away many things, but can they strip us of that which is most important? I think not. One such thing this world cannot do is cancel Christian joy. That’s because Christian joy is not from this world. According to the Bible, Christian joy comes from our Lord, Jesus the Christ who reigns in heaven.
- Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”
- Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God”
- Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy”
- Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord”
Why is this important? When your joy comes from Christ and is utterly steadfast through suffering, shame, persecution and loss, the world and its culture lose its power over you. You might take a stand the culture despises, and they might attempt to shame and cancel you, but since your joy comes from Christ, they’ve lost their control. Cancel culture is not a new thing, by the way. Let me give you a 2000-year-old example of an attempt at cultural control through mob outrage, canceling, and shaming that completely failed because it could not conquer Christian joy. It’s found in Acts 5:40–41. The cultural elite were trying to silence the voice of Christians — just like our culture often tries to do. Here’s what happened:
- 40 “They beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
That’s Christian joy. It’s the only kind that ultimately matters, because it’s the only kind that survives and thrives in spite of difficult circumstances. If our joy comes from the world — worldly comfort, worldly reward and therefore worldly control— we are subject to the world and not free. Christian joy sets people free. Joy in Christ has always been liberating from cultural control. In getting our joy from heaven, we become free on earth. So, no matter how hard the world tries, it cannot cancel your joy in Christ.