image courtesy of Jean Keaton
“Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts
that says the King resides in us today.”
– Walter B. Knight
Much of the world views Christianity by what they can’t do. Christians don’t drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do. All that the world sees is the rules that Christians have imposed for fear of becoming like the world. What they don’t see is our creative, exciting, adventuresome, and fun God. Unfortunately what the world sees in Christians is the same reality they are living. We may try to convince ourselves differently, but our hearts are oftentimes weighed down just as much as the world.
The church is nearly deplete of happy people.
If joy is in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), if the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and if God has anointed us with the oil of gladness (Psalm 45:7), then why is joy, happiness, and laughter not characteristics of the church?
I believe the major fault is a lack of faith in God’s goodness and willingness to come to our aid.
1. We don’t believe that God can protect Himself. We feel we must be vigilant to make sure there is nobody who believes incorrect thoughts about God. When we hear something said that doesn’t agree with our view of God or Scripture, we attack and defend. We usually staff these positions with wise, intelligent men that we send out to college campuses and talk shows to debate our enemies. To have joy would be to let our defenses down. We must stand primed and ready to break our enemy.
2. We don’t believe that God can protect His Church. We feel we must build fences and to be separate. If those in our church get too close to the world than they will not be able to stand. In reality we believe that the world is more enticing than God — at least the God we are promoting.
3. We don’ t believe that God can protect us. We feel that our circumstances are overwhelming and God is not doing anything about it. Sure He loves us, but He has more important things to do right now, so we stress and worry.
If you believe it is all up to you, you can’t have fun, you can’t relax. But that is not the model we have. Jesus did not run to Bethany when he found out Lazarus was dying (John 11:6). He wasn’t offended when the lady stopped Him on His way to Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:30-36). Ok, He was God. Think then of Paul. He writes Philippians while in prison yet it is full of references of joy. Another time in prison, Paul is found singing (Acts 16:25).
When you are confident that God is good and in control, you don’t have to carry those burdens around any more. Jesus said His yoke is easy and burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Don’t worry. Relax. God will provide what you need.
You can laugh in the face of hardships because they are really just opportunities for God to show His faithfulness to you. Joy is an act of faith in God’s goodness, and it creates a landing platform for the arrival of God’s answers and provisions. Joy makes way for hope, which leads to faith that creates the atmosphere for God’s miraculous answers (Psalm 45:15).
- What most often steals your joy?
- What do you do to return to the joy of the Lord?