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A happy heart

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 15:13

Over dinner in City Group recently, we discussed this quote from William Barclay“Jesus promised His disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” We talked about what it may have been that made the disciples this way, as well as why we often don’t reflect any of these…particularly 'absurdly happy’!

Many perceive Christianity as being about tradition, and morality, but not happiness. Obviously, morality isn't a bad thing, but some Christians, in the name of moral obligation, wear frowns, dutifully living a paint-by-numbers religious existence, and proudly refraining from what ‘lesser' people do to be happy. They seem to wear their displeasure as a badge of honour…are you picturing anyone in particular right now?!

Here’s the problem, gloomy Christians don’t win friends or invite gospel curiosity. When gospel realities haven’t penetrated our hearts, it shows on our faces…we need more gospel revelation, not less...the issue isn’t taking the gospel too seriously, but rather not taking the gospel seriously enough!

Not only that, but when people look in at Christianity and see disharmony and discourse, of course that would make them worry that becoming a Christian would lead to their own unhappiness…and unfortunately, grumpy Christians reinforce the stereotype!

The reality is that God created the physical world and happiness, and the devil doesn’t have a single shred of happiness to give…he specialises in rearranging price tags, making the cheap look valuable, and the miserable appear happy.

Throughout history, the Christian worldview has accounted for such happiness-generating developments as hospitals and schools, science and industry, music, drama, and the arts. And on a more local level, nearly every Christian community includes people with quiet confidence in Christ, who gladly give of their time and money to those in need, are extraordinarily loving, kind, helpful, and cheerful (and praise God for the many of those within our ‘church family’). Sadly, however, to many people, these bright lights seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

John Piper says, “If you ask me, ‘Doesn’t the world need to see Christians as happy in order to know the truth of our faith and be drawn to the great Saviour?’ my answer is ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ And they need to see that our happiness is the indomitable work of Christ in the midst of our sorrow.”

How would you describe yourself? Are you completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble (in the right kind of way!)?



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