I was studying this week in 1 John and was taken captive by something John wrote: “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” This captured my attention immediately. Seeing as how I believe scripture to be steadfastly reliable, and experiencing complete joy would be something I would be quite fond of, I was determined to discover the recipe. It would seem that it must be something extremely elusive since “complete joy” isn’t one of the many descriptions I hear people readily using to describe their lives. In fact, it isn’t the way I would describe my life at most times. “Somewhat joy” or “a long way from joy” maybe, but definitely not “complete joy.” So with pen in hand and exuberant anticipation I read on.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 NASB)

Did you catch it? Complete joy isn’t a recipe at all. It isn’t the result of wealth or health, circumstance or situation, peace or prosperity. Complete joy isn’t found in what, it is found in who. John writes to tell us how to have complete joy and then teaches us how to have fellowship with the Father. That’s it. Complete joy is found in the presence of our heavenly dad. To be in fellowship with the Father is to have complete joy. To have incomplete joy is to be living out of fellowship with our Father. That’s it. So what is required to have fellowship with the Father? We must be open toward God and honest about our sin. Our Father doesn’t expect perfection for fellowship, just integrity.

My prayer today is that we might war with our tendencies to justify our sins, instead confess them, and find complete joy in the fellowship of our dad.