A kindly, faithful monk dies and is taken to the pearly gates in heaven. He is greeted by St. Peter, who says, “Because of your life of faithfulness, the good Lord would like to reward him. You may choose anything and I will take you there.” After some thought, the monk replied, “All my life, I loved to look into the Scriptures, now I would like to begin eternity being able to peruse through the original texts.” St. Peter escorted the faithful monk to the great library where the original works were stored and left the monk.
A few days later, a heart-wrenching cry reverberated throughout all of heaven and St. Peter rushed to the libraries, where the sound was coming from. Staggering outside, the monk gripped his robes and shouted, “The text said celebrate, not celibate.”
One of my love languages is gifts. I love giving gifts (and I also feel valued when I receive a gift). I especially love giving gifts to my Boy. You know why? It isn’t only because he’s my Boy (although that is a dominant reason), my Boy celebrates every gift he gets. Literally. He gets excited about anything and everything, which makes it even more enjoyable for me, the gift giver, and I want to continue to give him more gifts.
Celebration is one of the spiritual disciplines. On first thought, it might seem odd to be a discipline, but the Bible backs up the importance of celebration. The Jewish calendar year is marked by their celebrations, from Passover to Feast of Tabernacles and others in between.
This past weekend/week, my school hosted a group of students and interns from Bethel Church. It was a great week where we saw people have encounters with God – they were saved, healed and delivered. And then we celebrated the testimonies. If I learned one thing from the Bethel group, it’s the importance of celebration. Every miracle is worth celebrating, every salvation story deserves recognition.
Celebration helps us focus on what God is doing rather than on what isn’t being done. It builds faith, for both the speaker and the hearer. 1 Corinthians 14:25 says if an unbeliever comes in when the word of God is being spoken (testimony), he (or she) will be convicted, and begin to proclaim, “God is really among you.” As a witness of Jesus’ goodness, isn’t this what we want? To share and express the love of God to us and others – the easiest way is to celebrate.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to celebrate is because scripture tells us that the Lord inhabits the praises of his people. God literally dwells in the praise, in the celebration of his good works. And like I love giving gifts to my Boy because he celebrates every gift, God is pleased when we celebrate his goodness and his works and he will be inclined to continue to shower his gifts down on us.
If we are ho-hum about the gifts he pours out, he may pass us over in the future, in favour of another who covets anything from his hand. When Jesus has done something for us, I say to my Boy, “Give Jesus praise, because when we give him praise, it releases him to do even more.”
I want more, don’t you? Why not celebrate and see how God will respond.