Sometimes Christians are just so smiley and so ‘Ned Flanders-like’ happy I could just slug-em. I know the joy of the Lord is my strength, but what’s with the ‘goofy-grins’?
I heard a good sermon a while back about the Fruit of God’s Spirit. You know.. love, joy, peace.. blah, blah, blah… and included in this list is JOY which I happen to misplace from time to time in my life..
Real Joy is not a serene surreal spiritual experience, but instead every day rubber meets the road with a pot-hole or two along the way experience.
Real joy is independent of circumstance. Most of us may not have your state of joy challenged by jail time, but joyful despite bumper to bumper traffic is instead our modern day challenge. Joy is even independent of having Covid-19.
How about joyful when doing the dishes? How about joyful and QUIET while doing the dishes?
How about.. Can I be joyful when
.. it appears God procrastinates, or
.. when my financial status and credit rating are less than (MAYBE WAAAY LESS) than perfect?
.. how about joyful when like today.. I have back spasms.
Yes.. joy is found in the difficult, tedious, stressful, and despite pain.
Can I be joyful when my relative prosperity can only be measured by God? … or can I be joyful when I have been married for what seems like one bazillion years! After a bazillion years of marriage your newlywed young love and passion is slowly replaced with something that includes a few disagreements (aka fights), money & health issues, raising kids without a road map, and living your til death do us part marriage with too often more questions than answers.
BUT.. we can learn so much from Jesus about joy. I don’t believe Jesus was the subdued passive image of joy and God that we often stereotype.
I believe Jesus was both passionate, and expressive. Jesus knew when it was time to be serious, worshipful, diligent all while being the friend of the common folk all while never compromising God’s values or God’s truths. I believe His joy was found in being faithful and unwavering to the Father in all circumstances.
Children loved Jesus, and sinners were attracted to Him because of his teaching was the perfect blend of truth with hope. The Pharisees hated Jesus for this very same teaching of perfect truth with hope.
The Gospels are full of Jesus telling great stories with purpose that resonated with man, but maybe Jesus laughed out loud and told great jokes. Maybe ‘milk comin out yer nose jokes.’
<pause> Ok, scratch that last one, that goes beyond even the goofy grin category of joy.
My point is that Jesus was real. He did not need to be vulgar or crass to be noticed, but he certainly would not be confused with Ned Flanders. It was not a somber sober demeanor that attracted people to Jesus, it was a man who loved life and lived his life with a joyful passionate purpose that honored God the father and cared for His fellow man.
I won’t even digress ‘long’ on my next point, BUT Jesus turned water into wine AFTER all the wine was gone. He did not make Welch’s Grape Juice, it was wine. Point is .. maybe Jesus liked to laugh and have fun with friends.. and we should to. PLEASE NOTE.. THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF DRINK (I personally don't drink anymore as I was not very good at it.. or too good at it..BUT I DIGRESS) .. I am just thinking out loud.
So where do we find Joy today?
Now with all of the bad news in our world right now.. my joy is challenged. I think of the Covid-19 related issues, racial tensions, hatred, greed, the media who lie as easy as they tell the truth, and all this stirred by the 2020 elections.
All of this and what I see as the Church (Christians) who are not salt and light. A church that compromises God's loving firm truth with the compromised views of our secular society. A church that lives in fear and too often is more concerned with offending the world, than offending God. A church that lives in Fear instead of Hope.
note: I am not pointing a finger at others here.. as I am a part of the Church. This is a sober reminder to love one another while we love and obey God.
Now back to the answer of the question.. Where do we find joy today? Know that joy is not found in who wins the upcoming elections. There are consequences to our actions, our votes, and in the direction our country chooses.
Our joy is found in the Lord through difficult times. It does matter that we love and obey God, but even if the whole world chooses NOT to obey God.. we must stand strong with Him always. Through good times and bad.. Joy is ultimately and eternally found in obedience and love of our God.
So there you have it. Maybe there is a world of Christian existence that is somewhere between a Ned Flanders goofy grin, and those Christians who look like they are in pain in church.
How will those people survive in Heaven when they learn they will have to be happy. So ‘Smile Mon!’
Joyful Christians without goofy grins? I know it will be a challenge, but we are just the people to do it.
May God bless and use each of you in ways that are beyond your dreams. I pray you find joy in the Lord in every circumstance.
Jeff (silly smirking) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson