Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Christian joy

Hey? Are you smiling now? Do you have a face that radiates your Christian belief. Many think Christians should be happy all the time. So, are you smiling yet?

There's a pop-Gospel song entitled, "If You're Happy, Notify Your Face." Not a well-known song among the contemporary Christian songs. The first stanza goes like this:

If you're happy, notify your face,

Take that frown off and put a smile in its place;

If you love Jesus, well, show it to the human race,

If you're happy, notify your face.

The song is catchy and cute, but, in reality, our facial expression is affected by the whole range of things we experience. Do you know people whose natural facial expressions when at rest looks like smiles? If projecting happiness is a Christian obligation, then those people have an edge on the rest of us because they don't need to think about notifying their faces. But, of course, their usual expressions are merely the result of how the muscles in the face function. These same people might tell us that their lives aren't happy at all. On varying occasions, we might even see their faces projecting pain, upset and anger. Most of us find it impossible to be happy all the time. Life is just too complicated for that.

Author Thomas Kelly tells of a well-known Christian of an earlier era, John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868-1905), who began to lose his sight, and went to a doctor. After examining Rowntree, the doctor told him that nothing could be done; he was soon going to go completely blind. Afterward, outside the office, Rowntree stood holding onto a railing to collect himself, when he suddenly felt the love of God wrap around him and he "was filled with a joy he had never known before." Under the circumstances, that was hardly happiness at all, but it was the powerful presence of God. And certainly that radiates a quality of joy!