I am afraid that we, as Christian, have misrepresented God and His Word. It is entirely true that our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) It is equally true that we hear so many sermons on the goodness and mercy of God that many forget that God, Himself, has said, Vengeance is mine; I will repay. (Hebrews 10:30) Maybe it is through the influence of these two verses, and others like them, that we have come to believe that God is somber and totally serious, and that His children should be the same. Somehow, we have forgotten that Christians should be the happiest people in the entire world.
How do I justify this statement? In at least 26 verses in the New Testament, the word “joy” appears, with the suggestion that it is an identifying mark of a Christian. Let’s look at just a few examples:
- Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
- Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
- I Thessalonians 1:6 And ye become imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Spirit
- Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising shame, and hath set down at the right hand of the throne of God
In addition, there are at lest 28 examples of joy given to us in the New Testament. Let us look at just a few of these:
- Zecharias, when John was born Luke 1:67-79
- Angels, when Jesus was born Luke 2:13-14
- Simeon, when Jesus was presented in the temple Luke 2:28-32
- The father, when his prodigal son returns Luke 15:20-32
- The disciples, when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem Matthew 21:8-9; Mark 11:8-10
- Paul and Silas, in the jail at Philippi Acts 16:25
- Barnabas, when he saw the success of the Gospel at Antioch Acts 11:22-23
- The Macedonians, when they made a contribution for the Christians at Jerusalem II Corinthians 8:2
- Paul, rejoicing over his converts I Thessalonians 2:19-20; I Thessalonians 3:9; Philemon 1:7
- Early Christians, when they believed in Jesus I Peter 1:8-9
Given so great a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), how can we call ourselves Christians and not be the most joyful people in town? Christians are not called to be exclusively serious and somber. We are specifically taught by
- direct command
- necessary inference
- approved example
all of which portray the Christian as a joyful person. Please keep in mind that joyful does not necessarily mean happy. Happy is a temporary state of mind, dependent upon the current circumstances. Joyful, on the other hand, is that peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:1), and which is given only to God’s children, the members of His family.
Are you a child of God? Then, let the world know that by being basically joyful person.
What say ye?