The Gigantic Secret of Christian Joy

January 14, 2011

A friend asked me recently “Do you find that being a Christian takes the fun out of life?”.  It is a common objection that I hear from agnostics and even some professing Christians.  Christians are bunch of boring puritans who do not like to have fun and can’t stand others having fun, or so goes the argument.

I have to disagree.  Fun is related to joy, in that they both reveal our hearts’ desires.  We love, by definition, what we desire in our hearts.  Do we love the world and all that it has to offer? Then we will love and chase after the things of this world and find pleasure in attaining them.  Do we love God and others?  Then we will find joy in worshiping him and helping others.  The fruit of the Spirit is love and then joy; I think the order is significant in that joy in the Lord cannot come for those who do not love Him.

Perhaps you are like my friend who think that Christian life is boring.  Perhaps you are a Christian who find this religion to be just a bundle of commandments that keeps you from what really you want to do.  If you love the world, then there’s no way you’ll find the Christian life joyful.  The purpose of Christianity is not to merely conform your external behavior, but rather to transform your inner desires.

But why should you change your desires at all?  Why should a person who is having a lot of fun in this world want anything else?  Part of the answer is that things of this world don’t last.  You can try to squeeze out as much fun and pleasure out of this life as you possibly can, but all things will pass away.  A bigger reason is that you are missing out on the greatest joy that your soul was created for.  All good things come from God, and if you do not have Him, you are not taking part in the greatest joy and the source of all joy. The most frightening reason that your desires need to change is that the palates of your soul is changing.  Every time you indulge your desires for this world, your very soul is being shaped.  So the plan to “have fun now and repent right before you die” will likely not work, not because God won’t accept you, but because you won’t want God!

“Joy… is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” writes Chesterton in Orthodoxy.  Perhaps it is a secret because our love cannot be understood from the outside.  There can be no reason for love.  Ask a husband why he loves his wife and he will give many reasons; but at the end of the day, he just does.  Love only makes sense when you stand inside it.  But love is also something you cannot force.  It is a matter of will, but you can’t will it!

So what can you do?  Two ways to respond, to either say “It’s out of my hands, so why should i change?’ or to say “It’s out of my hands; Lord change me.”

So I invite you friends, come and taste!

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