Thursday, June 04, 2009


I Want To Be Seriously Happy

Milt Stanley links to a post that contends "Christianity is too Happy" (where Milt also comments):
We sing happy songs and smile. Smiling is, in fact, the new outward face of the “good Christian.” Our popular pastors are always smiling and well-tanned. I have no problem with smiling and tans, I just have a problem with happy. Happy, happy, happy. It’s too happy. I know, we’re told to “rejoice evermore.” Rejoicing is much different than happy.

We say happy platitudes to each other, “Just have faith, brother!” Followed by the patronizing grasp of the shoulder and the comforting smile. Rah, rah, rah, go win one for the Gipper.

There’s so much happiness that I wonder if anyone is even in Christianity, you know, like, for real. Pharisees prayed great prayers about being better than everyone. Christ commended the sinner who couldn’t lift his eyes to heaven. Pharisees strike me as winkers. You know winkers. Winkers are the people who are happy, smiling door greeters, who say “Hey, this is the day the Lord has made! Amen?” Wink. They have everything figured out. No sticking points. Life is good. Wink wink. Check out Proverbs 10:10 about winkers.
Folks, I agree that when it comes to ministering to those in pain, it is an act of denial to just "put a happy face on it" and try to get them to move on. But Christianity does make me happy. Later in the post, Jeff Weddle says this with which I deeply disagree:
Christianity is not about making this life better; it is about making our eternity perfect. A. W. Tozer said, “For myself, I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance. If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me truth. We’ll have a long time to be happy in heaven.”
If Christianity in not making your life better right now, then you are not truly plugged into Christianity. Knowing the truth will, in fact make you much happier than living in ignorance. The real question is how much of the truth do you actually know.

Do you remember when you were a child and something made you unhappy? You cried and cried and only being totally encased by your mother's arms could make you settle down. Nothing in those arms changed the unhappy facts. The scrapped knee remained scrapped. But suddenly it was "OK" because your mother truly deeply loved you. That embrace did not take away the injury, but it did make you find a way to be happy, even if injured.

As Christians, we exist in such an embrace. The love of Christ, expressed in the very unhappy fact of the cross and the gloriously happy fact of the resurrection, is nothing if not such an embrace. If we do not feel happy, even with our unhappy circumstances, it is because we are not allowing ourselves to rest in that embrace.

We find "the wink" unsatisfactory because it comes from the stranger - we do not know if it is an expression of love, or a way to just make us go away. The winker needs to find a better way to communicate God's love, but that is a different issue.

I agree, the Christian life is full of trips and falls, pain and sorrow. Lord knows I have had my share. But the love of God embraces me - it empowers me to be happy with the pain. I do not deny my pain - that's a problem. But I do use it to drive me to snuggle deeper into the embrace of my Heavenly Father.

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