G. Ok. Chesterton is broadly credited with saying, “Jesus promised his disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” It is likely to be argued that almost all Western Christians don’t exemplify any of those three—least of all “absurdly happy.”
In right now’s world, Christianity is perceived to be about custom and morality, not happiness. I’ve taught school programs on biblical ethics, and I make no apologies for defending morality. Actually Christians are sometimes unpopular or maligned for professing Christ and standing for biblical fact.
However there are legitimate the reason why unbelievers worry that changing into a Christian will lead to unhappiness. They’ve identified—as many people churchgoers have additionally identified—professing Christians who seemingly exit of their method to exude distress, not gladness.
Are We Chronically Sad?
I’ve seen Bible-believing, Christ-centered individuals put up ideas on a weblog or on social media solely to obtain a string of hypercritical responses from individuals who wield Scripture verses like pickaxes, swiftly condemning viewpoints they contemplate suspicious. Responders assume the worst, not giving the advantage of the doubt, partaking in shotgun-style character assassination as a substitute. If I have been an unbeliever studying such responses, I definitely wouldn’t be drawn to the Christian religion.
Different believers deal with unfavourable information and political points to the purpose the excellent news doesn’t even issue into their ideas or conversations. I see too many long-faced Christians who appear constantly offended, disillusioned, and defensive over politics and the infringement of their rights.
Many non-Christians view Jesus’s followers as “hypocritical,” “insensitive,” and “judgmental.” These phrases all describe sad individuals. (If the world judges us, so be it, nevertheless it shouldn’t be as a result of we’re chronically sad.)
This isn’t the entire story, in fact. Practically each neighborhood consists of individuals with quiet confidence in Christ who’re terribly loving, variety, useful, and cheerful. Sadly, many unbelievers see them because the uncommon exception. How tragic, since happiness in Christ is certainly one of our strongest evangelistic instruments.
Happiness in Christ is certainly one of our strongest evangelistic instruments.
Contemplate Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation . . . who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Two of essentially the most literal translations—the NASB and the ESV—render the Hebrew as “good news of happiness.” The rapid context of Isaiah 52–53 is in regards to the Messiah, and this excellent news of happiness is precisely the identical “good news of great joy” the angel introduced to the shepherds after Jesus’s start (Luke 2:10).
Reality is, the excellent news ought to leak into each facet of our lives, even when we’re not consciously speaking about God or witnessing to somebody. Each time we ponder the gospel, reside by it, share it, and anticipate its end result in a world with out sin and demise, “good news of happiness” will permeate our lives with, effectively, happiness.
That’s precisely what occurred when Paul and Barnabas took the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul stated, “We bring you the good news [glad tidings (KJV)]. . . . And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing [the Gentiles were very happy to hear this (CJB)]. . . . The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit [The disciples were overflowing with happiness (CEB)]” (Acts 13:32, 48, 52).
God proved his boundless love when he despatched his solely Son to die in our place so those that consider in him can have eternal life (John 3:16). God is for us, and never even demise can separate us from his love (Rom. 8:31–39). If we actually consider these truths, we will’t assist however expertise deep happiness.
Now, does this imply we received’t battle with life’s difficulties or need to fake they don’t exist, particularly in entrance of unbelievers? After all not. The biblical name to rejoice within the Lord at all times (Phil. 4:4) isn’t about pasting on a false smile in occasions of heartache. It’s about discovering an inexpensive, attainable, and pleasant happiness in Christ that transcends troublesome circumstances. The truth is, our option to cling to, belief, and rejoice in him throughout trials (Hab. 3:17–18) testifies to the gospel’s extraordinary energy.
Do we actually consider God loves for his youngsters to be glad? If that’s the case, how do our each day lives, our households, and our church buildings mirror that fact for all to see?
J. C. Ryle’s phrases are as true right now as when he wrote them within the 1800s:
It’s a optimistic misfortune to Christianity when a Christian can’t smile. A merry coronary heart, and a readiness to participate in all harmless mirth, are items of inestimable worth. They go far to melt prejudices, to take obstacles out of the best way, and to make manner for Christ and the gospel.
Think about if God’s individuals stood out in shops, workplaces, colleges, and even on social media for all the proper causes. What if, whereas not apologizing for biblical fact, we let our “reasonableness be known to everyone” (Phil. 4:5) and, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,” we clothed ourselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col. 3:12)? Persons are drawn to Jesus after they see his attributes in others’ lives. Once they observe them, they’ll discover and need to know the supply of these qualities.
Happiness in Our Church buildings
One of many church’s nice challenges is to reintroduce and domesticate the spirit of happiness that ought to characterize God’s individuals. We now have nationwide holidays, definitely, however when applicable, believers can combine into them extra biblical and Christ-centered features. As an example, the observances of Christ’s start and resurrection have been commandeered by our tradition and distanced from their biblical meanings. Somewhat than abandon these holidays, we will infuse them with their biblical significance.
We are able to additionally rejoice different “holy and happy days” that our tradition doesn’t acknowledge and due to this fact received’t distort. Many nondenominational evangelical church buildings, my very own included, don’t get pleasure from longstanding church custom. Maybe we may reestablish distinctly Christian observances reminiscent of All Saints’ Day, Ascension Day, Epiphany, or Pentecost, or rejoice modified variations of Passover and Yom Kippur.
What if the church was referred to as the place that celebrates extra than the world, slightly than much less?
Theologian Robert Hotchkins wrote:
Christians must be celebrating consistently. We must be preoccupied with events, banquets, feasts, and merriment. We ought to provide ourselves over to celebrations of pleasure as a result of we’ve got been liberated from the worry of life and the worry of demise. We ought to draw individuals to the church fairly actually by the sheer pleasure there may be in being a Christian.
What if the church was referred to as the place that celebrates extra than the world, slightly than much less? The last word payoff could be reestablishing Jesus followers as profoundly comfortable individuals, fast to rejoice God’s personal happiness and beauty.
If the church did extra of this sort of celebrating, and if God’s individuals as people demonstrated what it appears wish to cheerfully love God and their neighbors, certainly fewer unbelievers would fall for the enemy’s lethal lie—that they have to discover happiness someplace apart from in Jesus.