I saw a question posed on Facebook today and it really made me start thinking. Here is the question:

“Are Christians supposed to be happy people? Is that something we should be known for?”
I don’t know why, but this question really caught my thoughts. I’ve actually spent the rest of the day thinking about that very thing.
Here is my first response. I don’t believe that Christians are always happy people. To me, happiness denotes something external. For example, ice cream makes me happy. A nice, cheesy pizza makes me happy. I have the thought that happiness is dependent on something external happening to me; something which I choose to allow to make me happy. Happiness can be physically seen through smiles and such. That is what I think happiness is. Some people may think otherwise, but to me, Christianity is not defined by being happy. Sure, we have many reasons to be happy, but I believe the words that should more define us are joy and love.

Joy is something internal. It is a guarded thing. The Bible speaks of joy over a thousand times from beginning to end. Happy or happiness only appears around 30-40 times, depending on the translation. In every instance, I look at the verses and happy does not feel right as a substitute for the word joy. For example, peep this:

John 16:21-23 (MSG)

The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you.”
In this passage, we see that there is a joy that is ours if we will have it. For me, happiness does not fit accurately here. It feels a little more fickle, or superficial, and comes short of the full indication of what Christ was speaking about. Joy is what the Christian has to give him and her strength when everything around seems to be falling to pieces. It’s the joy of the Lord that upholds us. And in those moments, we may not be able to smile. We may not be able to dance, but that doesn’t mean that we are despairing or sad. The world can not understand our joy, because true joy is only found in Christ Jesus.

SO, I can see why the world would mistake our joy for simple happiness. We try to find ways to explain that which we don’t understand. But we are assured time and time again that joy is a gift from God, one which we can never fully understand, but one which makes our hearts glad and causes us to continually rejoice in the God of our salvation.

Should we be known by our joy? Sure! But the trademark of any true Christian is known in the way we love. Christ even says this, that the mark of a Christian is found in love. The reasoning is simple. God is Love. So, if we are in Christ, then we are in tune with the greatest love in the world. Whitney Houston sang about the greatest love, but her song didn’t even scratch the surface of Christian love. It is because of this love that we can have peace and joy. It is the linchpin of our entire existence in Christ Jesus. Simply put, the world should look at us and think, “Man, that dude has some serious love in his heart! I want some!!”
So, that’s my answer to that facebook question. Maybe I’m just splitting hairs here, and I suspect that I am. But to me, it’s important that we not get caught up in finding connections that might minimize the work of Christ in our hearts. Now, the person who asked the question is full of the joy of the Lord. This manifests itself in his being perpetually happy, but that is the outward manifestation of the inner joy that is working within him. I know this for sure.

What are your thoughts? Am I crazy? Does any of this make an ounce of sense to you? Am I crazy (again)?

Until next time, be blessed!

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