Orange joy

Ok, I am loving the 2010 World Cup and the Netherlands’ undefeated march to Sunday’s final match.  Hup Holland Hup!  There are so few places and times to really celebrate my Dutch heritage – much of the time I’m wishing I was Italian (great art and culture), Irish (great beer, music, and Christian Celts), French (great art and food), or Aussie (great brogue).  So I can’t pass this up, proudly decked out in orange celebrating oranje!  Kroketten anyone?

Check out the joy of the Dutch fans, in South Africa and across the world – utter exuberance (Van Gogh did say orange was the colour of insanity).  And look at so many others, people who rarely watch football (soccer) for most of their life, utterly caught up in this.  There’s a funny thing about the joy of a sports fan watching their team win (which, being a lifelong Leaf fan, is an unknown experience to me) – they’ve really done nothing to contribute to the victory.

As a fan of the Dutch squad, watching thousands of miles away, I’ve obviously done none of the training, invested nothing into the project (other than my orange Roots Netherlands t-shirt), exerted little effort (other than raising a pint or two).  I’m nothing like the Dutch soccer team – I don’t have the legs to run for 90 minutes or kick like Van Bronkhorst; I can’t head like Sneijder.

Sports fans, having put in none of the effort, still share all the joy of the victory.  Which tells you something about joy – it’s shared.  There is a vicarious quality to gladness.  You can bask in the joy accomplished by someone else. The Dutch team – or whatever your sports team – is a representative, a substitute for you, and in their victory is your victory.  Something gets transferred to you because of your identification with the team and you share in all the joy.

What a beautiful pointer to the way gospel joy works out in life.  The possibility of living each day with genuine joy is real because of a substitute, our representative and champion Jesus Christ.  When we identify with him and wear his colours (a cross), his victory gets transferred to us – and yet we do nothing.  It’s Jesus who suffers, dies, and endures the worst so we can receive his glory. 

There’s no way I’m going to live in joy each day by convincing myself I’m a joyful person.  I need something greater than all the tragedies and pain of this life. The only way I’m going to consistently know joy is by sharing in the joy Jesus has already accomplished.

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