Thursday, October 28, 2010

Joyless Christians - A Sin?

Dave Bish wrote an excellent blog post that really got me thinking today - called; "How come new Christians are so full of joy and then that fades?". He said;

"Confusingly and foolishly and bewilderingly the Galatians swap faith in the gospel word and hence life in the Spirit for works of law and flesh. For religion and do-it-yourself living. What happens? Joy disappears. Life fades, and you get the kind of phenomenon that we observe happening as a Christian apparently "matures" and we pat them on the back for getting over their early enthusiasm and getting on with joy-so-deep-you-can't-see-it".

That really reminded me of my past. I remember when I was baptised in the Holy Spirit up here in Birmingham while I was at university and I went back home to my church in Dunstable bubbling over with the wonder of new life in the Spirit. I couldn't WAIT to tell my friends about what I had experienced and awesome I found God. Many of my peer friends were fascinated but I'll never forget attending a pre-service prayer meeting and I heard Stanley Jebb - my senior pastor and hero - pray quite angrily like this;

"Lord we pray against the excesses of youthful exuberance".

I am sure he meant it in the best sense but I took it very personally to heart and felt it was a personal attack on me just because I had an experience he was busy telling my church did not exist. Crushed I went to see one of the elders who were responsible for my care - and shared with him what had happened. He smiled at me benignly and said; "Ah yes it's great to be enthusiastic but you will grow up and mature". The implication - as Dave said - that I would essentially become miserable and dull and boring.

I love the way Dave ends the blog post and echo it whole-heartedly;

"Paul's word to us would be let's start with the gospel and grow up with the gospel, please don't poison new Christians, or older Christians, with the filth of religion and effort - what good is that? - let the gospel change lives, let the Spirit change lives, help one another with that by walking one another back to the gospel, loving and bearing with one another rather than rushing people to something that has an appearance of godliness but nothing more than a veneer. Win hearts to Jesus rather than to a miserable lifestyle".

It isn't particularly mature or God-glorifying to be miserable for the sake of it. In fact I rather think the Bible says it's a sin. Of course we should not be ridiculously and falsely happy all the time. Life brings pain and hurt. But abounding joy? Surely that is a characteristic of life in the Spirit. And that and that alone will glorify God by grabbing the attention of the world.

1 comment:

I'm Sheila Atchley. said...

Is it a sin? I say this carefully...

"hell" yes it is. Joyless Christianity is sin. And I have been in sin a LOT in my life...thank God that He restores the JOY of our SALVATION to us.

NOT by enabling us to keep laws and rules, but by continually re-introducing us to the lovely, winsome, glorious Christ Jesus.

Great post, Dan!

Blessings, Grace and Peace to you. It has been awhile since we've "visited" here - I feel like I've walked a million miles since we last chatted via blog.

But I still got my joy. Hell can't take it from me - I know, I've been "through" it a few times. ACK!