In 1971, the group Three Dog Night released a song that was the #1 song on the charts for 6 weeks in a row. Here are some of the words to the song:
Jeremiah was a bull frog; was a good friend of mine. I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine. And he always had some mighty fine wine. Joy to the world; all the boys and girls, now. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea; joy to you and me.
It seems to me that this song contains a very misguided view of true joy and where it originates. In the New Testament, the word “joy” is the word χαρά [khar•ah]. Throughout the Bible, joy is almost always associated with salvation.
In Luke 2:10, the angel told the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy….” What was that great joy? “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, NASB). David linked joy and salvation when he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12, NASB).
I contend that only Christians can experience Biblical joy because only Christians have experienced salvation. Non-Christians can certainly experience happiness in life, but happiness can come and go. Joy is constant — it does not depend on circumstances. I like to say it this way:
Happiness depends on happenings; Joy depends on Jesus!
If we’re going to choose a song about joy, I think the Isaac Watts version of “Joy to the World” is much better than the Three Dog Night version. Here are the words:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room. And heav’n and nature sing. And heav’n and nature sing. And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.
What do you think? Can non-Christians have joy in their lives?