Finding joy while living for the Lord
■ Susan Beckett / Contributed
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says, “church service?” Do you picture yourself sitting through a funeral or do you picture a church setting that’s alive, vibrant and celebrating life?
I believe one of the reasons Jesus was so popular in His time was because He exuded life. I think this “life” oozed out of every pore of His being and every word He spoke carried “life” and because of this, the crowds followed Him by the hundreds and thousands. There had never been anything like it before. But, after all, He did tell His followers that He had come to give them life. He did not come to give them just a plain, ordinary and typical life, but a significant, bright and abundant life! A life that is thriving, not just surviving, and living life to the fullest. There’s a big difference.
I think Jesus was engaging, brilliant, and was extremely joyful and fun. I’m sure some of you are thinking — How could He possibly be fun or have a great sense of humor? I mean really, does God do fun? After all, Jesus was God incarnate or God with us in the flesh.
Well for starters, as the Bible teaches, He was fully man and fully God. A difficult concept for some but, after all, He was God. He had to become fully man if He was going to become our substitute and give His life for ours on the cross. I believe He took on every expression of man – happiness, sorrow, anger, grief, joy, plus a great sense of humor!
I imagine there were even some evenings Jesus had around the campfire with his followers – just chewing the fat, sharing the days events – when something funny was said, perhaps by Jesus Himself. There’s Peter, in the middle of swallowing a big gulp of goats milk and he laughs so hard milk squirts out his nose, and everybody else cracks up. What is a Jerusalem joke like? Who knows but why not?! They were all personalities just like us.
Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” In addition, in Psalms 144:15 it says that “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” while Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us that there’s a time to laugh and a time to dance. How sad that so many people miss all of this and think of God as grim and stern, even cheerless.
Which brings us back to church and our initial question: “What comes to mind when you think of a church service?” Church indeed can be sobering, solemn and down-to-earth, as it should be. But I love what Billy Sunday once said, “If you have no joy, there is a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”
An anonymous person also once penned something pretty thought-provoking as well: “When was the last time you laughed for the sheer joy of your salvation? People are not attracted to somber doctrines. There is no persuasive power in a gloomy and morbid religion. Let the world see your joy and you won’t be able to keep them away. To be filled with God is to be filled with joy.”
As Anurag Ray said: “Life is a one time gift. Use it in the best possible manner. So love, laugh, live, be yourself, be happy and have trust in God.” Sounds like a terrific game plan to me!
Susan Beckett and her husband, Bob pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard St. in Hemet. Visit www.dpcitychurch.com for information.