I grew up in a pretty stiff conservative home. Church was a thing I attended as a kid because I had to. I didn’t like dressing up on Sunday morning. I didn’t like going to bed early Saturday night. I didn’t like listening to songs for an hour. And, like most kids, I preferred playing Gameboy than being preached at. Some people found church to be fun, and that’s wonderful. As an adult, I have a much more mature perspective of things. However, many adults still think God is like some of the stiff, even miserable, people they, for various reasons, came to identify with him. Or perhaps they misunderstand the relationship between boundaries and freedom. Boundaries are important, and life isn’t all euphoria, but the second “fruit of the Spirit of God” is still “joy” (Galatians 5:22). Some people try to dance their way around the concept, but at the end of the day, “joy” is a good feeling in the soul, and an unmistakable one at that.
Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world. . . By that, I mean it is not an idea. It is not a conviction. It is not a persuasion or a decision. It is a feeling. Or — I use the words interchangeably here — an emotion.
When we think of the word “partying,” oftentimes drugs, promiscuity, and reckless behavior are the first things that come to mind, because that’s what most “partying” today has become. Partyers are notorious for seeking as much instant gratification as they can get in as short a period of time, with no regard for the long-term consequences.John Piper on Christian joy
The brand of partying that pursues maximum instant gratification at the expense of all else isn’t the template you would expect to be handed down by a benevolent God.
Jewish Feasts In The Old Testament
In the Hebrew Bible, God commanded the celebration of seven feasts every year–Passover, The Feast Of The Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks), Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Some of these feasts were a single day, while others, like the Feast Of The Unleavened Bread, lasted an entire week. The purpose of these feasts, as I understand, was to foster community with people, a stronger relationship with God, to commemorate history, to remember God’s blessings, and, ultimately, to have a good time. That’s the “Old Testament” for Christians, which was revealed long before Christ had been born.
The Kingdom Of God As A Party
In the New Testament, for its part, the Kingdom of God–the final reunion between God and people– is analogized to a lavish wedding feast. God’s people correspond to the “bride,” whereas Christ corresponds to the “groom.” A wedding party back then, and today in large parts of the world, is the social construct most synonymous with joy. There’s extravagant food and drink. All your favorite people are there. And you have a reason to celebrate. In sum, the Kingdom of God is portrayed as one big reunion–like Avengers–with heroes of the faith and common people alike in attendance.
I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 8:11
In the same vein, Jesus tells the parable of a king and a wedding feast in Matthew 22. A king invites people to a fancy party that he has prepared for his son’s wedding, but nobody wants to come. The king is irate by their reaction, and extends the invitation to literally anyone who can make it. The king is supposed to represent God, and the story is a picture of the Gospel.
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.Matthew 22
The essence of a party is a joyful state of mind. It follows that the Creator God is “pro-partying” in the highest sense.