Thursday, September 1, 2011

Freedom in Relationship

         It seems to me that Christians often labor under the belief that they should be “nice” and “happy,” or at the very least behave nicely and appear happy.  In this way, we will be good witnesses to non-believers and an encouragement to believers as we faithfully project the good news of the Gospel.
            I would respectfully ask that we take a more critical look at this popular point of view.  Speaking for myself, I do desire to be a strong witness to unbelievers and an encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ.  However, I also want to feel good about myself, and I want others to think well of me.  It is this “me” part of the equation that leads me into the temptation of creating a “nice and happy” facade even when I am neither.  It provides the motivation to use the witness and encouragement excuse to justify an outward “nice and happy” mask, to settle for safety and the pretense of joy rather than the real thing.
            While “nice and happy” can be a pleasant and comfortable routine, it falls sadly short of the authentic and passionate life to which Scripture calls us.  Jeremiah, chosen by God to be His prophet, complained bitterly to God of his lot in life. Before he became King of Israel, David’s psalms record his despair and impatience for God to act on his behalf.  Jesus has warned us that we will face tribulation, and the Apostle Paul did not hide or minimize his suffering for the cause of Christ.  John has identified anyone who denies his sin as a liar, and none of the “heroes” of the Bible is without significant personal struggles.  The glory of the Christian life is not that we have an excuse to play the nice and happy game, but rather that we are loved in spite of (and in the midst of) our sins and struggles.  Indeed, broken and weak as we are, the Lord of the universe invites us to partake in His nature and participate in His purposes.
            I would very much like to see those of us who call Jesus Christ Lord to consider relinquishing the security blanket of  pretending to be “nice and happy” and experience the freedom of being genuine with one another.  Without doubt, this mode of operation carries with it risk.  But as we expose ourselves and offer ourselves to others, we will be driven to find our identity, value, and security in Christ, and we will be able to love one another with the love that can reveal Him to our neighbors.  And as a bonus, we will no longer be bound by the “nice and happy” model of Christian living.