“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 are 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, then 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 anymore. 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?
I have been trying to boil things down in my journey to some core common denominators. You touched on them here. I think the word ‘Trust’ is surfacing again and again as I read various orthodox Christian digests from different parts of the “C”hurch. Honestly resting in the assurance of God’s power, concern for us and reliability comes down to what we are trusting in. As a divorce lawyer and criminal defense lawyer, I see that people’s greatest fears surface as they are faced with the loss of their hope and trust in their marriage, their spouse, their friends, their parents, their children, their jobs, their financial security and all the other things that people place in priority over God. If we were to ask a person who is fully satisfied with the joy they have in the Lord how they navigated through crisis situations in their own journey, I think the answer is the same. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and he will make your paths straight” So that verse deals not only with what ought to be our greatest passion and desire, but also with what we occupy our minds thinking about. So trust seems to be a union of our mind and our passions in order to bring about enduring joy which is not affected by the things this world has to offer in competition to God being our one, most important desire. This simple little way of looking at our faith and our God will never leave us in despair, even if we suffer greatly for maintaining our joy in the face of adversity. Jesus is said to have endured the cross “for the joy set before him” so that really says something about what we should expect from our circumstances and how we ought to react when they inevitably get dicey.
John, thank you for providing your thoughts and and experiences to this topic. Your words and use of the Proverbs 3:5 is a great companion to what I was thinking. Blessings.